Emirates ( Ṭayarān al-Imārāt) is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates based out of Dubai. It is the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 2,400 passenger flights per week, from its hub at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 111 cities in 62 countries across six continents. The company also operates three of the world's ten longest non-stop commercial flights from Dubai to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Emirates is a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, which has over 50,000 employees, and is wholly owned by the government of Dubai directly under the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Cargo activities are undertaken by the Emirates Group's Emirates SkyCargo division.
During the mid-1980s, Gulf Air began to cut back its services to Dubai. As a result Emirates was conceived in March 1985 with backing from Dubai's royal family, whose Dubai Royal Air Wing provided two of the airline's first aircraft. It was required to operate independent of government subsidies, apart from $10 million in start-up capital. The airline became headed by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the airline's present chairman. In the years following its founding, the airline expanded both its fleet and its destinations. In October 2008, Emirates moved all operations at Dubai International Airport to Terminal 3, a new terminal exclusively dedicated to Emirates to sustain its rapid expansion and growth plans.
Emirates operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and is one of only nine airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet, whose centrepiece is the Boeing 777. Emirates also has orders for 90 Airbus A380s with 15 of them already in service and became the second operator of the Airbus A380-800 after Singapore Airlines when their first aircraft was delivered on 28 July 2008. Emirates has won numerous awards and is an industry bellwether for aircraft purchases, purchasing over 130 aircraft in 2007 alone.
The airline ranks amongst the top 10 carriers worldwide in terms of revenue and passenger kilometres, and has become the largest airline in the Middle East in terms of revenue, fleet size, and passengers carried as of 2007. In 2010 the airline was the sixth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried, and largest in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometres flown. The airline was also the seventh largest in terms of scheduled freight tonne-kilometres flown.
Emirates has built up a strong brand name as a leader in the aviation industry, particularly in terms of service excellence, and its very rapid growth, coupled with consistent profitability. In 2010, Emirates was voted the eighth best airline in the world by research consultancy firm Skytrax.
In February 2011, Air Transport World gave Emirates Airlines the title of Airline of the Year for 2011. The award has been given based on recognition of its commitment to safety and operational excellence, customer service trendsetters, financial condition including a 22-year consecutive annual profit.