More than 800 people attended Emirates' Roadshow Gala Dinner event at St Petersburg's Ice Palace
Emirates' acclaimed hospitality warmed St Petersburg's Ice Palace last night, paving the way for the launch of flights to the city from 1st November.
More than 800 guests from the business community and local government gathered for the gala dinner event at the multi-purpose home of ice hockey team, SKA St Petersburg, to hear more about one of the world's most successful airlines and its inspirational base of Dubai.
Guests also were given the chance to see elements of the airline's flagship A380 aircraft with a replica First Class Private Suite on display.
Earlier in the day, the Russian media met with Emirates representatives including Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Worldwide; Salem Obaidalla, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Europe & Russian Federation and Egor Plakhov, Manager Russian Federation and CIS. Also representing Emirates in St Petersburg were Pradeep Kumar, Senior Vice President, Cargo Revenue Optimisation & Systems; Brian Labelle, Senior Vice President, Skywards and Peter Payet, Senior Vice President, Arabian Adventures and Congress Solutions International.
"St Petersburg is an important gateway into Russia and a very active region for business, industry and culture - its attractions and world heritage sites draw millions of tourists each year," said Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Worldwide.
"We believe there is an excellent opportunity to come into the market and offer real value for money, bringing travellers more choice, convenience and access to new markets, via our state of the art hub in Dubai," added Mr Vaughan.
“For the first time, the UAE was rated among the top ten investors in the Russian economy last year. We warmly welcome Emirates in St Petersburg and believe that the entry of such a powerful player to our market will strengthen business relations between the North-West region of Russia and the UAE, as well as increase tourist flow in both directions,” said Yury Molchanov, Vice Governor of St Petersburg.
The launch of St Petersburg will be the airline's second gateway into Russia after Moscow, which started in 2003 and is now a double daily service. Russia's 'Northern Capital' will be Emirates' 115th destination and fourth new route this year after Basra, Geneva and Copenhagen.
A combination of Airbus A340-300 and A330-200 will operate between Dubai and St Petersburg in a three-class configuration. EK flight 137 will depart Dubai at 1040hrs, arriving in St Petersburg at 1715hrs. From St. Petersburg, the flight leaves at 1845 and lands in Dubai at 0040hrs the next day.
“We have been working on the launch of Emirates' flight to the Northern Capital for several years with the active support of the St Petersburg government and Russian Union of Travel Industry,” said Sergey Emdin, General Director of Northern Capital Gateway LLC, operator of Pulkovo Airport. “The airline’s flight to Dubai will allow us to significantly expand the route network of Pulkovo airport and provide our passengers with convenient access to countries of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australasia,” Streamlining competition on the route, Emirates will enhance the quality of service available for our passengers,” Mr Emdin added.
Offering over 13 tonnes of cargo capacity on each flight, Emirates SkyCargo will play its role in further enhancing trade between Russia and the UAE, worth more than 1 billion USD in 2010.
Pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, garments and electronics are set to be amongst the imports to St Petersburg. Exported goods will likely include spare parts for power stations, aircraft and ships.
A total of 117 Russians are employed across the Emirates Group, including 55 cabin crew, all of whom are based in Dubai.
Emirates has a fleet of 157 aircraft criss-crossing six continents and has become the world's largest Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 operator.