Orhan Abbas, Emirates’ senior vice president for commercial operations in Africa, said that his company flew over 1.1 million passengers to and from Cairo during the period from April 2017 to November 2018. “The top countries visited by Egyptians on Emirates are the UAE, China, the US, Australia, and India.”
Daily News Egypt interviewed Abbas to speak about the company’s activities in the Egyptian market over 2018 and their plans for 2019; the transcript of which is below lightly edited for clarity.
How many flights does Emirates operate from Egypt?
Emirates currently operates three daily flights between Cairo and Dubai with its popular Boeing 777 aircraft.
How do you see the security procedures adopted in the Egyptian airports?
We always comply with airport and government authorities’ rules and regulations in the countries we operate in.
How many passengers did Emirates fly to and from Egypt in 2017? What are the company’s estimates for 2018, and goals for 2019?
Emirates flew over 30.1 million passengers furing the period from 1 April to 20 September 2018, up 3% from the same period last year. In Egypt, we flew over 1.1 million passengers to and from Cairo from April 2017 to November 2018. The top countries visited by Egyptians on Emirates are the UAE, China, the US, Australia, and India.
Ticket prices were increased after local currency flotation in Egypt in November 2016, how the company’s ticket prices got affected compared to 2016?
Our current prices are competitive in the market and our offers are popular among Egyptian travelers. Passengers flying with Emirates will have three-class cabin in our B777-300ER with 310 seats in Economy Class, 42 seats in Business Class, and eight seats in First Class.
Economy Class features specially designed and contoured seats in a 3-4-3 configuration with 2-4-2 configuration in the last rows with generous space for passengers. Business Class offers comfortable ‘sleeperette’ seats which recline to a 0.78 metre long lie flat bed.
First Class features the world’s first private suites with privacy screens, massage-enabled leather seats which convert to flat beds include luxurious comfort covers, down pillows, and cotton-lined blankets.
Passengers travelling in First Class will also find the BYREDO travel wellness range of skincare in their private suites and brand new Bowers and Wilkins’ Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones, to amplify the viewing experience on ice.
We recently launched our airport lounge in the Cairo International Airport to provide our customers even greater levels of comfort, hospitality, and convenience as they start their Emirates experience in Cairo.
How do you see the company’s five-year strategy in Egypt?
Emirates has commenced operations over 30 years ago, and we will continue to be in an important market that has the potential to grow. We hope we can bring greater connectivity between Egypt and the rest of the network. Our view is optimistic.
How many aircraft does Emirates have? What about your fleet modernisation plans?
Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 777 and A380 aircraft. Emirates operates 105 A380’s and 164 B777’s to 159 destinations, including Dubai, and 15 dedicated Freighter destinations. Emirates received eight wide-body aircraft – three Airbus A380s, and five Boeing 777s, with five more new aircraft scheduled to be delivered before the end of the fiscal year (FY).
We also retired seven old aircraft from our fleet with further four to renter operation by 31 March 2019. The airline’s long-standing strategy to invest in the most advanced wide-body aircraft enables it to improve overall efficiency and provide better customer experiences.
How much was the cost of your newly opened lounge in Cairo airport? Do you plan for any new investment in Egypt in the future?
The Emirates Lounge in Cairo International Airport cost $3.6m. The interior of the Emirates Lounge reflects a new contemporary and fresh design. The lounge offers seating for up to 152 customers, covering an area of 880 sqm. The lounge provides premium passengers with a relaxing ambiance, luxurious facilities and amenities, LED TVs, comfortable leather armchairs, a choice of formal and relaxed seating, bespoke artwork, and separate male and female prayer rooms.
To complete the travel experience, a range of luxury spa products are also available in the lounge from award-winning Irish brand VOYA. This skincare line includes hair and body wash, conditioner, hand cream, and hand wash.
The lounge features a dedicated dining area, an extensive menu of complimentary hot and cold gourmet buffet, including local and international dishes and an extensive beverage service. Customers can also enjoy shower facilities, a fully equipped business centre with state of the art touch screen workstations along with complimentary Wi-Fi service within the lounge.
Do you face any challenges in the Egyptian market?
All markets we operate in globally are different and present their own set of advantages and challenges. We work closely with government authorities to comply with each country’s rules and regulations.
In terms of cargo, do you work in air freight? If yes, what is the amount of commodities did you transport in 2017? And what are your estimates for 2018, and goals for 2019?
In the first half of the FY 2018/19, the volume of transported cargo reached 1.3m tonnes while yield improved by 11% .This performance is the result of Emirates SkyCargo’s focused investments in products and services tailored to key sectors, which gives it a strong competitive edge in a recovering global air freight market.
In Egypt, 2.6m tonnes of cargo were transported between 2017 and 2018. The top cargo categories are perishables, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and textiles.
Do you have any corporate social responsibility activities in Egypt?
Globally, the Emirates Airline Foundation, a non-profit charity organisation, aims to improve the quality of life for children regardless of geographical, political, or religious boundaries, and to help them maintain or improve their human dignity. The foundation’s goal is to help disadvantaged children realize their full potential by providing them with the basics, which most of us take for granted, such as food, medicine, housing, and education.
Emirates has also supported United for Wildlife, a global collaboration that unites the efforts of the world’s leading wildlife charities in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, by featuring on two A380 liveries some of the planet’s wildlife threatened by poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. It aims to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade and communicate the need for urgent action. We also collaborated with international organisations to train and better equip its ground and cargo staff to detect and deal with illegal wildlife products in transit. As the required paperwork for movement of some wildlife products is often forged, Emirates also made the decision to ban trophy shipments.
Emirates has introduced sustainable blankets produced from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Using patented ecoTHREAD technology, each blanket is made from 28 recycled plastic bottles. It is estimated that by the end of 2019, Emirates ecoTHREAD blankets would have collected 88m plastic bottles from landfills.
How many job opportunities do you offer?
Emirates employs more than 1,055 Egyptian flight attendants and 16 pilots, in addition to over 2019 Egyptian nationals working in Emirates’ offices. We recruit in line with our growing operational requirements. We never disclose numbers and all vacancies are advertised online.
How many are the company’s destinations around the world? Do you mull over flying to more destinations in 2019? If yes, what will your new destinations be?
We fly to 159 destinations in 85 countries. In 2018, we introduced new passenger routes, which includes Stansted (London) – launched on 8 June 2018, Bali, Indonesia-Auckland, New Zealand – launched on 14 June 2018, Santiago de Chile via Sao Paolo – launched on 5 July 2018 and Edinburgh (Scotland) – launched on 1 October 2018.
Would you please explain the historical relation between Emirates and Egypt?
Emirates commenced serving the Egyptian market in 1986, and has become one of the top three markets for Emirates in Africa. We operate three daily flights between Dubai International Airport and Cairo International Airport. Emirates currently has two local offices in Cairo, one in Mohandessin and the other is in Heliopolis.
Would you please elaborate about the company‘s revenues?
The Emirates story started in 1985 when we launched operations with just two aircraft. Today, we fly the world’s largest fleet of Airbus 380s and Boeing 777s, offering our customers the comforts of the latest and most efficient wide-body aircraft in the world. We inspire travellers around the world with our growing network of worldwide destinations, industry leading in-flight entertainment, regionally inspired cuisine, and world-class service.
The Emirates Group today announced its mid-year results for 2018/19. The group saw steady revenue growth compared to the same period last year, however profits were impacted by the significant rise in oil prices, and unfavourable currency movements in certain markets, amidst other challenges for the airline and travel industry.
The Emirates Group revenue was AED 54.4bn ($14.8bn) for the first six months of its FY 2018/19, up 10% from AED 49.4bn ($13.5bn) during the same period last year, according to a past statement of the company on 15 November.
Profitability was down 53% compared to the same period last year, with the group reporting a 2018/19 half-year net profit of AED 1.1bn ($296m). The profit erosion was primarily due to the significant increase in fuel prices of 37% compared to the same period last year, as well as the negative impact of currencies in certain markets, added the statement.