EMIRATES, the Dubai-based international airline, has recently celebrated its second year of operations between Glasgow and Dubai, with the carrier announcing that the route has seen growth of more than 30 per cent in its second year.
The daily service has been one of the major success stories in Scottish aviation history, being profitable from virtually the first flight.
Last December, after just 18 months on the route, Emirates had to introduce a larger aircraft as demand was starting to outstrip supply, particularly in the premium business cabin.
As a result, Emirates added 50 per cent more seat capacity on the Glasgow-Dubai service, with the introduction of a new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The larger plane offers 427 seats in a two-class configuration, with 42 seats in business and 385 in economy – 149 more seats per day than the Airbus A330-200, which operated the service previously. Cargo capacity also increased dramatically to a maximum of 17 tonnes on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which means more Scottish exports are now being flown directly out of Glasgow.
The airline launched its service in April 2004. Since then, more than 350,000 customers have flown in and out of Glasgow with the carrier. This figure was boosted by the Scottish Commonwealth Games team, which was sponsored by and travelled with the carrier to Melbourne.
One of the big attractions of the new aircraft is that it offers passengers in all classes the ICE (information, communications, entertainment) system. ICE has more than 500 channels of on-demand entertainment from the latest films, to number-one hits since 1952, to news programmes and games. Flyers can keep their ear to the ground, even at 35,000 ft, as e-mail and an SMS message service is available at every seat.
A revolutionary mood-lighting system has been fitted throughout these aircraft. The system, which adjusts the cabin lighting to reflect the time of day, is designed to help passengers counter the effects of jetlag.
Despite the big increase in capacity, the carrier is expecting to hit load factors of about 75 per cent throughout the year – with figures in business class expected to be even higher.
Laurie Berryman, Emirates manager for Scotland, says: "Expensive and time-consuming connections through London or other points are a thing of the past for Scottish travellers flying long-haul. More and more business customers are recognising the benefit, on their doorstep, of the direct Emirates services to Dubai and beyond.
"We are drawing passengers from across Scotland's central belt, down to the Borders and stretching up towards the Grampian region, so travellers from all over the country are clearly taking advantage of our ultra-efficient connections through our Dubai hub to a rapidly expanding network of 83 destinations in 57 countries around the world.
"Dubai is a fantastic destination for tourism or commerce, and also a perfect geographical point to break long journeys before connecting on to other points.
"Our figures show that out of every 100 passengers we carry from Glasgow, 75 will use Dubai, as a hub to fly on to other destinations."
Emirates said it has received a "fantastic welcome" from Scotland's business community, which has embraced the benefits of a service departing from a local airport.
Berryman adds: "Hopefully we are now first choice carrier for eastbound travel.
"There is a huge amount of international trade going on between Scotland and Dubai, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and even India – which is great news for the Scottish economy."
The most popular destination for business travellers – who receive a host of benefits including access to Emirates lounges and complimentary chauffeur drive to and from their home if living within a 100 driven miles radius of Glasgow Airport – is Dubai followed by Bangkok, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.
Cargo shipments have risen too – helping the success of the service – with 6,300 tonnes of freight being transported in and out of Scotland in the second year of the service, up nearly a quarter on the first year. In March 2006 alone, Emirates SkyCargo shipped more than 700 tonnes of freight, a new monthly record for the route.
Berryman says: "Our cargo operation has helped create business opportunities for Scotland's exporters through our extensive and growing global network. Over the past year, we have shipped an average of two tonnes of seafood each month to destinations throughout the Far East and South East Asia.
&quot;Scotland's most famous export product, whisky, has also been reaching far-flung parts of the globe – with around 250 tonnes of Scotch being shipped to India, Korea and other Asian destinations since April 2005. Other commodities have included oil well equipment, electronic components, machinery and biological equipment.
Airport operator BAA Scotland is delighted with the way the route has taken off. Stephen Baxter, managing director, says: "There is little doubt that the arrival of Emirates has transformed the long-haul market from Glasgow.
"Emirates has been one of the great success stories of Scottish aviation, not only boosting passenger numbers at Glasgow Airport, but also creating new opportunities for Scottish businesses to tap into new and emerging markets.
"With the airline flying daily from Glasgow via Dubai to destinations across the Far East, the Indian sub- continent and Australasia, more and more Scots are choosing to fly long haul from Glasgow, bypassing the more congested airports of the south-east. We look forward to working with Emirates to deliver further growth from Scotland."
Source: Business Scotsman