Emirates, one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, today commenced its new non-stop service between Dubai and Erbil city in Iraq, making it the 11th destination launched by the airline this year.
The new route marks Emirates’ newest destination in the Middle East region and its third gateway in Iraq, after Baghdad and Basra.
Gary Chapman, President Group Services and dnata, Adel Al Redha, Emirates Executive Vice President, Engineering & Operations, and Dr Abdullah Al Hashimi, Divisional Senior Vice-President Emirates Group Security, were aboard today’s inaugural flight to Erbil. 
Upon landing in Erbil International Airport the aircraft received a traditional water cannon salute, followed by a warm welcome at the airport for all passengers on-board the first flight from Dubai. “The launch of Erbil marks Emirates’ 16th destination in the Middle East and we are confident that our passenger operations in Erbil will be as successful as our existing Iraqi gateways. Erbil will provide our passengers with an excellent opportunity to travel seamlessly both in and out of Erbil to our worldwide network of 126 destinations in 74 countries.” Adel Al Redha, said.
“Iraq continues to see an upward trend in economic growth and we are firmly committed to helping the country prosper and flourish. We expect this new destination to be extremely popular with the many multinational companies who have a presence in Erbil, in addition to those looking to set up new business ventures.” Al Redha added.
To celebrate the first flight into Erbil Emirates last night organised a welcoming Ramadan Iftaar dinner attended by local travel trade and media. The event was hosted by Haitham Al Battawy, Iraq Country Manager.
In addition to Erbil Emirates has launched several other new destinations this year including; Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dallas Fort Worth, Seattle, Lusaka, Harare, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, and Lisbon. Flights to Washington DC, Adelaide, Lyon, Phuket and Warsaw will also join the Emirates’ network in the few coming months.
The new service between Emirates’ hub in Dubai and Erbil will initially operate four times a week, increasing to a daily service from 1st September 2012. Emirates will fly its Airbus 340-300 on the route, offering 267 seats in a three-class configuration and more than 13 tonnes of cargo capacity.
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, has been operating a freighter out of Erbil since February 2011. Meeting the strong demand for transporting machinery and parts for the oil and gas industry, it connects Erbil and points throughout its network with three scheduled freighters a week, operated by Boeing 777Fs, which have a capacity of 103 tonnes. The passenger flight, which is able to carry 13 tonnes in the belly hold, will increase the weekly capacity from Erbil to more than 400 tonnes.
Emirates flight EK949 will depart each Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from Dubai International Airport at 0430hrs and will arrive in Erbil International Airport at 0630hrs. The return flight, EK950, will depart Erbil at 0800hrs, arriving in Dubai at 1140hrs the same day.
Emirates currently operates a daily flight to Baghdad and Basra. The airline has dedicated sales offices in both Iraqi cities.