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Tue 20 Jul 2010 04:00 AM

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Raising the bar with Emirates and FlyDubai

With a penchant for breaking industry records, Emirates has just announced the biggest order to date for the Airbus A380, just in time to defend the superjumbo after a month of harsh criticism from various quarters of the aviation industry.

Raising the bar with Emirates and FlyDubai

With a penchant for breaking industry records, Emirates has just announced the biggest order to date for the Airbus A380, just in time to defend the superjumbo after a month of harsh criticism from various quarters of the aviation industry. The Dubai-based airline was the toast of the Berlin Air Show after revealing its purchase of 32 additional A380s at a jaw-dropping list price of US$11.5 billion. Considering its previous orders for 58 of the aircraft, it's hard to imagine any other airline in the world replacing Emirates as the ultimate A380 customer, certainly not in the near future.

At present, London Heathrow, Toronto, Paris, Jeddah, Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok and Seoul are being served by the carrier's existing fleet of A380s. It's safe to assume that a greater roll-out will take place in coming years, starting with Beijing, Manchester and New York in 2010.

So much for accusations by Cathay Pacific CEO Tony Tyler earlier this year that Gulf airlines would take at least a "generation" to catch-up with the Hong Kong-based carrier's service. We found it hard to believe at the time and our interview with Emirates executive vice chairman Maurice Flanagan in this issue proves that we're not the only ones. "There is no way in which Cathay is ahead," he told our reporter. "It is nonsense."

And while Emirates has raised the bar for long-haul carriers, FlyDubai has been doing the same in the low-cost sector. As you'll read in our cover story, the fellow Dubai-based airline celebrated its first anniversary of operations last month, with a route network that has now reached 16 destinations around the region and beyond, supported by a fleet of nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft and almost one million passenger bookings to date. For a relative newcomer to the industry, these achievements have certainly given CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith a reason to celebrate. And to mark the occasion, we look back at the history of FlyDubai, from the date its name was revealed to the delivery of its ninth Boeing 737-800NG on Wednesday 16th June 2010. We hope you enjoy the read!

Robeel Haq is the senior group editor of Aviation Business.

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