Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing airlines, will launch a new passenger destination in Iraq this August with the commencement of flights to Erbil, its third Iraqi destination after Basra and Baghdad.
Starting from 12th August 2012, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan will be the carrier's 17th passenger destination in the Middle East.
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.
"Since we first launched flights into Iraq we have seen demand for our services there increase tenfold," said His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group.
"Emirates has been offering a well utilised cargo service to Erbil since February 2011 and we are confident that our new passenger service will be filled in both directions. A resource rich country, Iraq offers great potential for growth and we look forward to the launch of our third destination there this August.”
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.
Known to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Erbil has a population of approximately five million people and is the fourth largest city in Iraq .
The Iraqi Kurdistan region has the sixth largest oil reserve globally with many of the world’s large oil multinationals availing of offices there. The region is booming with new, large-scale construction projects including a 1.6 billion US-dollar media centre considered to be one of the principal projects currently in development.
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.
“We have been facilitating international trade between Erbil and destinations across our network for some time, so we already have a deep understanding of the market and its potential for strong revenue. The launch of Erbil will be our third in Iraq within 18 months, testament not only to the country’s potential but also to our own ability to swiftly enter previously underserved markets, opening them up to our global network of 123 destinations,” added H.H. Sheikh Ahmed.
Emirates currently operates a daily flight to Baghdad and four weekly flights to Basra. The airline has dedicated sales offices in both Iraqi cities.
Erbil will be Emirates’ 11th new route to launch in 2012. Already this year, the airline has started flights to Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dallas Fort Worth, Seattle, Lusaka, Harare and Ho Chi Minh City. Flights to Barcelona, Lisbon and Washington, DC will join the Emirates’ network on July 3rd, July 9th and September 12th respectively.