Emirates was born in March 1985 with the help of the royal family, whose Dubai Royal Air Wing provided two of the airline’s first aircraft, used Boeing 727-200/Advs.
On the 25th of October, 1985, Emirates flew its first routes out of Dubai with just two aircraft—a leased Boeing 737-300 and Airbus 300B4-200.
During its first year, the airline carried about 260,000 passengers and 10,000 tons of freight.
Since then, the airline kept growing at a rate that never went below 20%.
New international destinations were quickly added, with a nonstop service to London Gatwick joining the network in early July, 1987.
By 1993, Emirates had a yearly revenue of almost $500 million.
In early 1994, the airline had no less than 4,000 employees, carrying two million passengers a year between 34 destinations with a fleet of 18 Airbus aircraft.
In 2005, Emirates began flying non-stop to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, using the new Airbus A340-500.
In April 2000, Emirates placed an order to become the first launch customer for the Airbus A3XX, now known as Airbus A380 – the largest civil aircraft built so far.
In November 2005, the first A380-800 in full Emirates livery arrived in Dubai, being displayed at the Dubai Airshow 2005.
During the same period, Emirates kept adding new orders for Airbus and Boeing aircraft, these orders including over 50 Airbus A380s and 48 Boeing 777s, so the airline is expected to become the world’s largest 777 operator in the next few years.
On the 1st of August, 2008, Emirates operated its first A380-800 commercial flight, carrying 489 passengers from Dubai to New York.
In 2009, with the delivery of the 78th plane, Emirates became the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777.
In 2010, in line with the airline’s strategic growth plan, Emirates increased its order for new aircraft: 32 Airbus A380s at the Berlin Airshow and 30 Boeing 777-300ERs at the Farnborough Airshow.
In 2011, Emirates placed the single largest aircraft order in Boeing’s history, approximately USD 18 billion, when it requested 50 777-300ERs.
In September 2012, Emirates and Qantas announced that they have signed a 10-year agreement to set up a major alliance. Under this agreement, Qantas moved its hub for European flights to Dubai and entered an extensive commercial relationship with Emirates and will be the only other airline operating to Terminal 3 and the new purpose-built A380 concourse at Dubai International Airport. Together, Emirates and Qantas offer 14 daily services between Australia and Dubai.
In October 2013, Emirates and Virgin america launched a frequent-flyer partnership that allows members of both airlines’ frequent-flyer programs to earn and redeem Emirates Skywards miles.
In 2013, Emirates, rated as a four-star airline by Skytrax, was voted Airline of the Year at the World Airline Awards..
In the financial year 2013/2014, Emirates carried over 44 million passengers, of which 2.3 million youngsters, demonstrating its strong family friendly commitment.
In 2015, Emirates adopted a two-class configuration for Airbus A380 aircraft, removing First Class to accommodate 615 passengers across Business Class and Economy Class cabins. The first flight of an aircraft with this cabin configuration took off on December 1st, 2015 from Dubai to Copenhagen.
In 2016, Emirates was named World’s Best Airline 2016 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. The airline ended the year with a fleet of 255 aircraft with an average age of 5 years, significantly below the industry average of more than 11 years, added seven new passenger routes and continued to invest in a series of product developments and service enhancements, both in the air and on the ground.
In November 2017, Emirates agreed to buy 40 Boeing B787-10, the largest Dreamliner, with deliveries planned to start in 2022. With a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft, Emirates is one of the few airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet. Emirates is the largest operator of the A380, with the 100th A380 joining its fleet in November 2017, and also the world’s largest Boeing 777 operator with over 130 aircraft in service.
In January 2018, Emirates placed an order for 20 Airbus A380 aircraft, with options for 16 more, and with deliveries planned to start in 2020.
In March 2018, Emirates unveiled a brand new configuration on Boeing B777-200LR aircraft, with new wider seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration for the first time. The newly refurbished Emirates B777-200LR aircraft, the first of ten aircraft to be retrofitted with the new configuration over the course of the year, is set in a two-class configuration with 38 Business Class seats and 264 Economy Class seats. The first refurbished Boeing B777-200LR aircraft operates to Fort Lauderdale from March 6, and the following aircraft are planned for several destinations, including Santiago, Chile, Emirates’ most recently announced destination.
In 2018, Emirates carried over 59 million passengers on an average of over 3,700 passenger flights per week to 157 destinations. With its fleet of 274 aircraft, Emirates operated over 192,000 flights in 85 countries.
In 2019, Emirates and China Southern Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a codeshare agreement. This first codeshare agreement between Emirates and a Chinese airline offers connectivity to domestic flights within China to Emirates’ passengers and allows China Southern’s passengers to travel to Africa and the Middle East on a single ticket. Emirates also intends to expand with new codeshare destinations the strategic partnership with flydubai.
No deadly incidents involving Emirates have been recorded so far.