EMIRATES has announced that it will begin daily flights to Dublin from January 2012, marking its first route to the Republic of Ireland.
The daily service, from January 9 next year, will leave Dubai at 0700hrs and arrive in the Irish capital at 1130hrs. The return flight leaves Dublin at 1255hrs and gets into Dubai at 0025hrs the next day. An Airbus A330-200 will be deployed between Dubai and Dublin, offering first, business and economy class.
"Dublin will be our 29th route in Europe and Emirates' customers in Ireland who currently travel through some of our UK gateways will be able to fly non-stop to our industry leading hub in Dubai and conveniently connect onwards to our broadening route network," said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.
"We see strong potential in Ireland through its industry, technology, tourism and the huge number of Irish nationals living overseas."
Ireland has a population of around 4.5 million, but it's estimated more than 15 times that live overseas, including somewhere in the region of 80,000 Irish nationals in Australia and about 5,000 in the UAE. Other key markets are predicted to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Africa, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
The Republic is a popular tourist destination and last year received 6.7 million visitors, drawn by the rich ancient history, spectacular countryside, traditional Irish music, thousands of miles of scenic coastline and renowned fresh air.
"We are delighted to welcome Emirates Airline to Dublin," said Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) Chief Executive Declan Collier.
"The significant improvements we have made to our facilities in recent years, including the opening of a new passenger terminal, was a major factor in helping to win this new business and we look forward to a successful partnership with our newest customer."
Emirates SkyCargo is already active in Ireland, mostly carrying goods through Manchester, and with 14 tonnes of bellyhold capacity becoming available on each passenger flight, activity in the market will intensify. Pharmaceuticals, which make up nearly a quarter of Ireland's exports, are expected to be amongst the commodities carried, along with electronics.
With a fleet of 157 aircraft and the largest A380 operator in the world, Emirates currently flies to 114 destinations in 67 countries.
Services to Basra, Geneva and Copenhagen have already started this year. Flights to St Petersburg begin on November 1 with Baghdad following suit as of November 13. Rio and Buenos Aires become new links into South America from January 3, 2012.