How Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed established Emirates Airline with two rented PIA planes

Web Desk
February 19,2019

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has penned his autobiography titled Qissati (My Story), in which he has revealed the story of launching the Emirates Airline and PIA's help in transforming the newly laucnehd airline into one of the biggest.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, has published a 50-chapter autobiography revealing firsthand information about his journey from young royal to Prime Minister, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

In the 37th chapter of the book, he has discussed the establishment of Emirates Airline in detail, now one of the biggest airlines of the world, with PIA’s assistance.

By the end of the 1970s, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid wrote, the UAE announced an 'open sky' policy in Dubai to attract airlines. “Our target was to enhance competition and to open more sectors in our economy. Gulf Air, a major airline at that time was worried that some other airlines would benefit from our policy.”

Our differences with the Gulf Air widened and reached a dead end, he narrated.

“Gulf Air's problems with the Dubai airport kept increasing and they asked me clearly and directly to end the open sky policy so that they could protect their market share. They gave us a few weeks to announce it, threatening to withdraw from our airport, which meant the end of 70 per cent of the airport's work. After holding many meetings, I stressed that the policy would never change and that it was essential to the way we work.”

I hate such disputes, because it is never a smart or civilised way to solve problems, the Dubai ruler added.

“In 1984, I invited the manager of an aviation company called Dnata in Dubai, Maurice Flanagan, to my office, to discuss with him a dream I always had. I wanted to establish an airline in Dubai.”

“He was an expert in this field. He made a team and provided me with a plan. The team suggested naming the airline Dubai air, but I said we should name it Emirates Airline and told them to put the UAE flag on the aircraft.”

“I asked about the cost of launching the airline and they said $10 million. We had six months to launch the new airline. We rented two planes from Pakistan International Airlines and worked on them. The working team asked me to give them special privileges to protect the airline from competition, but I said the policy of open sky would remain.”

An ex-Emirates official Ejaz ul Haq had also shared his experience of launching the new airline and PIA’s critical role in an opinion piece.

PIA, as well as leasing the aircraft, provided training facilities for Emirates’ first staff members.

He said PIA afforded his team every courtesy, ensuring they had all the resources needed for the project. Several weeks later, the airline had a name.

In September 1985, when Mr Haq and his other team members were working on the project in Karachi, the Emirates cabin crew started its training in the PIA’s Ground Training School.


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