Emirates expects to maintain growth in India

Written by Agencies | Dubai, April 30: | Updated: Apr 30 2008, 23:39pm hrs
Emirates Airline said it will continue to grow in India, one of the top five markets of the carrier in the world, by adding new flights and connecting new destinations apart from consolidating its presence in the existing cities.

"Our growth plan will continue in India. The Indian market is a growing one. So, the growth will continue," Emirates' Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said, while announcing the Emirates Group's financial results in New Delhi.

The carrier, wholly-owned by the Dubai Government, now connects nine Indian destinations with 105 flights a week. On July 1, it would commence six weekly flights to and fro Calicut and double the flights to Delhi.

"We will add more flights to India and connect other destinations as soon as we get approval," Emirates' Senior Vice President (Commercial Operations), West Asia and Indian Ocean, Salem Obaidalla said.

West Asia and Indian Ocean regions contributed 8.9 per cent of the total revenue for the year for Emirates.

Emirates has an long relationship with India. The airline had started its global operations with Mumbai and Delhi as its first few gateways in 1985. Since then, Emirates has grown manifold to register a profit of USD 1.37 billion in 2007-08 on a turnover of USD 10.8 billion.

"India is an important destination for us. We are growing very well in India," Obaidalla said. Since 2006, Emirates has tripled its capacity by launching flights to Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. During the period, the carrier also increased its frequency to Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi besides others.

This year the focus is to consolidate operations. The airline plans to consolidate its presence in the country by increasing flights to existing cities.

Emirates also has a call centre in Mumbai. Apart from India, this 450-seater centre caters to company's Australian and North American airline customers.

Obaidalla said headcount of the centre would raised as per demand, but did not give any numbers. Emirates have recently launched chauffer-driven service for its first class and business class passengers arriving and departing from Mumbai. the facility would be soon extend to Delhi as well, Obaidalla said.

The airline also plans to double the headcount of the cabin crew to over 18,000 in the next four years. About 10 per cent of its existing crew members are Indians.

"We have 9,200 cabin crew members. We plan to double it over the next four years," Ferry Dally, Divisional Senior Vice President (Service Delivery) said in Dubai.

However, the company, he said, has no plans to set up a training centre for cabin crew in India. It has its facility in Dubai, where only in last August the carrier has invested 'multi million dollars' to almost double the capacity.

Dally said Emirates has doubled the number of cabin crew members to 9,200 only in four years ago. Following the expansion, the facility is equipped to train 2,500 people at one go. It inducts cabin crew members from almost 70 nations. "There is a constraint of good cabin crew across the industry. But, we don't face such problem because of our brand. We have teething recruitment policy and take such persons who have got the right heart and the right attitude," Dally said. Attrition is not a big problem for the carrier as it is as low as 10 per cent, he added. Emirates has 115 aircraft in its fleet now and has placed orders for 181 more with over USD 58 billion. These include 58 jumbo-size A380s.