Dubai National air Transport Association (dnata) is established in 1959 by the Dubai Government. At the new Dubai International Airport, dnata is established with just five staffs to provide ground handling services. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum opens the airport in 1960 and implements innovative open-skies policy. Maurice Flanagan moves to Dubai in 1978 to become a director and general manager of dnata.
In 1984, Mr. Flanagan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum discuss launching an airline in Dubai. A 10-man team which produces a business plan for the new airline to be named either Emirates airline or Dubai airlines, Mr. Flanagan is among the team. Sheikh Mohammed opts for Emirates. The decision in made to build the airline on top of dnata which was already the sales agent for 25 airlines.
In 1985, Mr. Flanagan as introduced to Sheikh Mohammed to his uncle and future Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Mr. Flanagan embarks on ambitious mission to launch an airline with $10 million in five months. Future president Tim Clark and Sheikh Ahmed join Mr. Flanagan’s team. Pakistan International Airlines agree to wet-lease Emirates to aircraft. Deals are struck to fly into Bombay, Karachi and New Delhi. Flight EK600 departs Dubai International for Karachi on October 25. Two Boeing 727-200s were given by Sheikh Mohammed to the airlines.
In 1986, the network grows with traffic rights acquired into Cairo, Dhaka, Colombo and Amman. In 1987, deals are struck to fly into Istanbul, London’s Gatwick Airport, Frankfurt and Male, the capital of the Maldives. A6-EKA flies from Toulouse to Dubai on July 3 as Emirates takes delivery of its first bought aircraft. The Airbus A310-304 is designed to Emirates specifications to give the opportunity to fully implement its commitment to offering a superior flying experience than its rivals.
In 1988, in just 38 months of business, Damascus is added to the Emirates route network giving it a total 12 destinations. Flight are added to Manila, Singapore and Bangkok in 1989. In 1990, at the ASEAN Aerospace exhibition in Singapore, Sheikh Ahmed signs up for three more Airbus A310-300s. Emirates adds Manchester to its schedule and bucks the industry trend and continue to expand despite the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
In 1991, Emirates grounds its fleet for several hours on January 17 as the battle to liberate Kuwait begins. During the first month of the conflict, operations resume and Emirates maintains 90 percent of its normal services. In 1991 too, Emirates finally gets a slot at the busiest international hub in the world that is London Heathrow. Emirates orders Boeing 777s with an option for seven more in a $64.5 million deal shortly after the arrival of another Airbus A300-600R taking its fleet to nine. 25,000 passengers a week are being flown to 23 destinations as the airlines celebrates its sixth anniversary.
In 1992, Emirates is the first airline to install video system in all seats in all classes throughout its fleet. French government convinced by Emirates to allow it to fly into Paris. $2 million terminal exclusive to Emirates is opened at Dubai International. The first airline that order a $20 million Airbus full-flight simulator was Emirates.
In 1993, in all three classes, Emirates becomes the first airline to introduce telecommunications on an Airbus. In 1994, Emirates become the first airline to equip an Airbus fleet with an on-flight fax facility.
In 1995, Emirates has a fleet flying to 34 locations in the Middle East, Far East and Europe as the airline celebrates its 10th birthday. With flight into Johannesburg, Kenya and Nairobi, Emirates enter the African market. Sheikh Ahmed aims for more Emiratis to forge careers with Emirates starts to take shape as the first pilots graduate from Emirates’ training program. Emirates opens Flight Training Centre in 1995.
In 1996, Emirates takes delivery of its Boeing 777-200.Emirates become the first airline to show live footage to take-off and landing. Its maiden flight to London is followed by Emirates’ inaugural flight to Melbourne. Emirates becomes title sponsor of the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse racing event.
In 1997, for 16 Airbus A330-200s, Emirates makes a $2 billion order.