The deliveries of the first A340-500 aircraft from the European consortium Airbuswill enable Emirates to begin daily non-stop flights to Sydney from Dubai on 26 October. On the same day, it will launch daily services to Brisbane, via Singapore, using 777-300s from the Boeing Company of the US. Elsewhere, the carrier is planning to start new services in August to Moscow and Shanghai and, subject to government approval, to Lagos in December.

Services are also to be expanded on a host of existing routes, including Osaka, London Gatwick, Manchester, Hong Kong, Munich and Nairobi, and new routes to North America will begin in 2004. Emirates will begin flights to New York in April that year, which will be followed in the summer by the launch of a San Francisco service.

‘Today’s news is merely the first stage of a major make-over for the entire airline,’ said Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum. ‘We will have 56 aircraft by 31 March 2004, a dedicated Emirates terminal at Dubai International Airport in 2005 and the first of our 22 double-decker A380s arrives in 2006.’