Emirates airline plans an ambitious roll-out of its non-stop flights to the US, it was revealed yesterday, with new American destinations added to the list.
In the next two years, the Middle East's top airline plans to add San Francisco or Los Angeles and Chicago to its direct flights to New York, which begin in June.
"That is the list - so far," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman of Emirates Group.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, he said: "We already fly to four destinations in Australia. America is a much bigger market, so we would expect to offer more services.
"We pinpointed America a long time ago and it has been a long time target to enter that market with a non-stop service. Obviously, we had to have the aircraft. Our new aircraft enables us to do that."
He is undaunted by the list of those who have clambered after the American dream only to have their wings clipped. He said: "The US is a big market and a tough market. A lot of people who have tried to enter it have suffered. But the biggest sufferers have been the local carriers, other airlines flying to the US have made money.
"We believe our study of the market shows the figures add up. We believe the business is there. We are not doing it for the prestige but because the business is there."
He sees the launch of the service to the US as an important step in the development of the airline. He said: "It sees Emirates becoming a truly global airline."
The airline is embarking on its latest adventure on the back of what Sheikh Ahmed says has been another "good year". When the figures are released at the end of April, he said: "Our profits should not be any less than the previous year's." This was in excess of Dh1 billion on revenues of Dh10 billion.
He added: "The double digit growth we have seen in recent years has continued and this year we expect in excess of 20 million passengers."
Nevertheless, the airline will continue with its policy of tapping the capital markets to bolster its balance sheet and Sheikh Ahmed confirmed Emirates airline will launch a bond within a month or two for a similar amount" to last time.
He also confirmed: "Today there is no immediate plan to privatise the airline. It is the owner's decision when to do so but at the moment there is no plan to do so."