DUBAI: Emirates, one of the world’s most modern airlines based in futuristic Dubai, today celebrated the start of flights to Erbil, considered to be one of the oldest cities on earth.
An Emirates’ A340-300, carrying a VIP delegation and media landed in Erbil, the capital of northern Iraq and the airline’s third gateway into the country after Baghdad and Basra.
Travelling aboard the inaugural flight, which follows the operational start of services on 12th August, were Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Gulf, Middle East ‘&’ Iran; Hiran Perera, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Cargo Planning and Freighters, Abdalla Al Shehi, UAE Ambassador to Iraq; Asmat Siddiqi – Iraq’s Ambassador to the UAE; other government officials, prominent members of the business community and representatives from the media.
Erbil is said to be the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlement, established, some believe, almost 6000 years ago. Aided in recent years by the construction of Erbil International Airport, the city of around 1.3 million people is fast becoming a flourishing business and tourist hub.
“Erbil’s free trade zone, similar to the Dubai model, is attracting foreign investment with opportunities across numerous sectors, including construction, property development, oil and gas,” said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Gulf, Middle East and Iran. “This is a good time for us to enter this market and once again Emirates will be a catalyst for trade and tourism.” One of Erbil’s most notable attractions is the mysterious Citadel or Qala’t Erbil, containing a collection of bazaars, an ancient bathhouse and a labyrinth of narrow alleyways. Other sites of interest include the Bradost Mountains, the Sami Abdul Rahman Park and the Shar Garden Square with its cooling fountains, trendy cafes and charming teashops.
Emirates Sky Cargo, the air freight division of Emirates, has been operating freighters out of Erbil since February 2011. With the demand for transporting machinery and parts for the oil and gas industry, the airline operates three weekly B777F freighter services, each with a capacity of 103 tonnes. Combined with the 13 tonnes of belly-hold capacity on each passenger flight, the overall weekly cargo capacity rises to over 400 tonnes.
Passengers in all cabin classes aboard the A340-300 can expect gourmet-chef prepared cuisine, served by multi-national cabin crew donning one of the world’s most iconic airline uniforms.
EK949 departs each Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from Dubai International Airport at 0645hrs, arriving in Erbil at 0845 hrs. The return flight, EK950, departs Erbil at 1010hrs and lands in Dubai at 1350 hrs. Emirates currently operates a daily flight to Baghdad and four weekly flights to Basra.
Aside from Erbil, Emirates has launched flights to a host of exciting new destinations this year; Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dallas Fort Worth, Seattle, Lusaka, Harare, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, Lisbon and Washington DC. Adelaide, Lyon, Phuket, Warsaw and Algiers will also join the Emirates’ network in the coming months.