Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has extended its reach into Africa with the launch of a new linked service to Lusaka and Harare.Now flying to 22 points within Africa, Emirates will connect Zambia and Zimbabwe to key markets across Europe, the Far East, Australasia and the Indian Subcontinent. The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service operates every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday using an A330-200 aircraft in a three class configuration. EK 713 departs Dubai at 0925hrs, arriving in Lusaka at 1450hrs. The onward connection to Harare departs Lusaka at 1620hrs, reaching the Zimbabwean capital at 1720hrs. The return flight leaves Harare at 1920hrs, arriving Lusaka at 2020hrs. It departs Lusaka at 2150hrs, landing in Dubai at 0710hrs the next day.“Zambia and Zimbabwe are both important emerging business and industrial centres, with economies that are projected to grow by over five per cent annually during the coming years,” said Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President Revenue Optimisation & Distribution. “Emirates’ new service will play a significant role in supporting this growth by connecting Lusaka and Harare to our worldwide network, opening new conduits for trade, investment and tourism.”On board today’s flight were Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior Vice President Revenue Optimisation & Distribution; Jean Luc Grillet, Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Africa; Muhammed Riza, Manager Commercial Business Development; Duncan Watson, Emirates Regional Manager Cargo Commercial; The Honourable Given Lubinda, Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs; The Honourable Yamfwa Mukanga, Zambian Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications; The Honourable Fackson Shamenda, Zambian Minister of Tourism; the Honourable Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwean Minister of Transport; Marah Hativagone, Chairperson, Zimbabwean Tourism Council (ZTC); Rueben K. Walobele, Special Assistant to Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chitalu Kabalika, Aid to Zambian Minister of Transport; Agnes Chaila, Business Development Manager, National Airport Corporation Ltd. (NACL) and Cleophas Mathabire, Aid to the Zimbabwean Minister of Transport.Upon arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Emirates’ inaugural Flight 713 was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute. "Emirates’ decision to operate to Lusaka represents new economic doors being opened to our country. The fact that this airline, which is successful on all continents, is entering markets like ours as part of its expansion plans is clear evidence of excellent future prospects for Zambia and Zambians,” said the Honourable Given Lubinda, the Zambian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Emirates services to Lusaka will be a huge boost to its tourism industry, helping to support the Zambia Tourism Board’s target for increasing visitor arrivals by 22.5 percent to one million visitors in 2012. The onward connection to Harare, operated by Zimbabwean Captain Ca Busiso Ndlovu, also received a warm welcome at Harare International Airport. Later that evening, leading figures from the travel trade, local businesses and the government attended a gala dinner event which featured performances by local stars Victor Kunonga, Dudu Manhenga and Oliver Tuku. "The arrival of Emirates to Zimbabwe is a very significant development for the market. We welcome the entrance of a truly global airline; with an extensive network, large fleet and great reputation for quality service which will greatly improve choice and connectivity for Zimbabwean travelers," said the Honourable Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwean Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development. "Emirates will bring greater capacity and fare competitiveness, which will certainly lead to traffic growth to and from Zimbabwe." It is expected that Emirates’ services to Harare will support the Tourism Ministry’s projections that the sector will contribute over US$5 billion to the Zimbabwean economy by 2015. To support the linked service, Emirates will promote Zambia and Zimbabwe’s tourism attractions, including Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, game reserves and safaris, in advertising campaigns executed across the airline’s global network. Emirates Holidays will also feature eight pages on Zimbabwe and Zambia in its 2012 World of Choice brochure.With a fleet of 169 aircraft, Emirates is the world's largest Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 operator. The airline placed an order for 50 new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in November, bringing its total order book to 236 aircraft, worth over US$84 billion at list prices.Following the launch of Lusaka and Harare, Emirates will start services to Dallas, Texas on 2nd February and Seattle on 1st March, Ho Chi Minh City on 4th June and Barcelona on 3rd July.