The airline was established in May 1985 by the Dubai government. It started operations on 25 September 1985 with flights to Mumbai (then Bombay) and Delhi, in October 1985 they started Karachi. A single Airbus A300 and a Boeing 737-300 were leased from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Subsequently two Boeing 727-200 Advanced were acquired from the UAE’s Royal Flight. These aircraft were used until Emirates began taking delivery of a fleet of newly built Airbus A300-600R and A310-300 widebodied aircraft.
The first European destination to be added in July 1987 was London-Gatwick. Far Eastern operations commenced to Singapore in June 1990. Emirates acquired a financial stake of 40% and a management contract for Air Lanka on 1 April 1998, which subsequently changed its name to Sri Lankan Airlines. Emirates is the only airline that can take travellers from the United States (New York’s Kennedy Airport (IATA: JFK)) to Australia eastwards with just one stop. Emirates SkyCargo is the cargo subsidiary of Emirates.
For 2004–05, Emirates paid an increased dividend of Dh368 million to the Government of Dubai, compared to Dh329 million the year before. In total, the ownership received Dh1.1 billion from Emirates since dividends started being paid in 1999. The Dubai government is the sole owner of the company, but does not put any money into it (apart from having provided start-up capital of US$10m plus and an additional investment of circa US$80m at the time of the airline’s inception). Neither does it interfere with running the airline. (Emirates is run by a widely respected professional management team with several years’ industry experience led by 77-year-old Maurice Flanagan.) Emirates has been consistently profitable with the exception of the airline’s second year of existence.
In fiscal year 2005, Emirates achieved a record result of Dh2.6 billion ($708 million) net profit from Dh19.1 billion ($5.2 billion) operating revenue in what was another difficult year for the global aviation industry, marred by high fuel prices and the natural disaster in South East Asia. Emirates carried 12.52 million passengers, 2.1 million more than the previous year. It employs 16,119 staff.