Emirates Airline is beginning a non-stop service between Houston and the United Arab Emirates later this year, according to the airline's Nigel Page.
"Well, we're announcing our new service, which is starting on the third of December, which will be a non-stop service from Houston to Dubai, initially three times a week and from the 1st of February we'll be daily on the route. This'll be the first service of any airline from Houston to the Lower Gulf, and hence, being non-stop, it'll be the fastest service of any airline. Traditionally, people have traveled over Europe--normally over London or Frankfurt or Amsterdam or Paris--so it's a much-longer routing, obviously, if you're going to have to go up north over Europe, and then down to the Gulf."
Page says Houston is Emirates' second gateway in the United States.
"We had an office here in Houston for over 13 years now, and have been serving the market by selling with Continental Airlines over London Gatwick to Dubai. We've built up considerable traffic over the years using that routing, and now we're going to go non-stop. We're very confident that we can make the service very viable, and we think it's going to be extremely popular. We're going to have business travelers, obviously, traveling mainly on oil-related services, I think, out of the Houston immediate area. But we'll also have people visiting friends and relatives because there's obviously a big American population living in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. Plus, I think we will build up, gradually, a holiday base of people going on holidays to Dubai because it's got some wonderful features for people—fabulous beaches, really outstanding hotels and amazing shopping centers with tax-free goods and even an indoor ski slope, if you fancy skiing any day of the year!"
Dubai is a vibrant, modern city, and the United Arab Emirates is becoming a world tourist destination.
"Well, I'm actually old enough to have been working there since 1974, initially, when there was very little tarmac and an awful lot of sand, I guess. Today, you see eight-lane highways going from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, and lots of shopping malls and a lot of apartments being built. A lot of projects like The World, which is a set of islands which are grouped in the shapes of continents, the various continents of the world, so you can have your own private island as part of Australia or part of Africa. Also the Palm, which has made a lot of headlines, which is a set of islands in the shape of a palm, which ultimately will have 40 low-rise hotels on the outer fringe of the palm. And there's even going to be an Atlantis resort there, so, rather like the Bahamas, so Americans used to going to the Bahamas will notice the skyline, immediately, is very similar. And even Trump International are building a hotel on the palm, as well."
The aircraft being used for this Houston to Dubai route is luxury-laden.
"We're going to sue a brand new 777-200 long-range aircraft, straight off the assembly lines from Boeing. It has a very special interior. First class has individual suites with electronic doors. They have their own wardrobe, their own mini-bar, a 26-inch high-definition television screen, a wi-fi controller, over 600 channels of audio/video-on-demand on the whole aircraft, and wi-fi throughout the whole aircraft. It has a massage seat, flat beds and economy leather. Business class also has a flat bed and massage seat, as well, with a 16-inch screen, high-definition. And in economy, we even have 10.6-inch screens in economy. And so the aircraft is extremely well-equipped for long-range. It has some very novel features. You can plug in your digital camera and look at the photographs you've just taken on holiday, on the screen. You can even select out of 10,000 song tracks your order of songs that you want to hear particularly, and stuff you're interested, range of songs, so I think it's some very fun features."
The aircraft is also capable of hauling 16 tons of cargo on each flight.