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Sunday,  July 14, 2024 3:12 AM 

McWilliam shares Emirates' vision for 2015

  • Air
  •   02-06-2015  11:52 am

McWilliam shares Emirates' vision for 2015

In an effort to further an already growing interest in travel to Dubai, Emirates Airline intends to increase awareness of the city as an ideal vacation spot in 2015.

With 80 per cent of the world’s population living within an eight hour flight of Dubai (that number is expected to grow to 7.8 billion people by 2030), Don McWilliam, Emirates country manager for Canada, said the city is a viable, accessible option for Canadians looking for alternatives to traditional winter getaways.

“Dubai is a remarkably vibrant city with a tremendous amount to offer, particularly for Canadians who are looking for sun destinations this time of year," he said in an interview with

In 2014, Dubai International Airport saw more than 70.4 million international passengers, surpassing London Heathrow International’s record-setting number of 68.1 million and winning the title of the world’s busiest airport.

Seventy per cent of Emirates passengers connect in Dubai en route to countries such as India, Africa, and Australia, and the airline has worked to encourage its customers to step outside the airport during layovers by providing 48-hour stopover packages that include local taxes and fees, hotel transfers and complimentary visas. For Canadians, Emirates has been collaborating with Kompas Express since 2011 to provide the Dubai Stopover Program, a one-stop package that offers a range of accommodations, UAE visa support and on the ground service. Now, in an effort to expand the destination's profile, the airline is also working with Goway Travel, Flight Centre and ALBA Tours to develop longer- stay package options.

Dubai is a destination that is gaining attention, evident in Air Canada's recent announcement that it will begin offering non-stop service from Toronto in November 2015, a move which indicates the city’s increasing popularity among international travellers. That will make it one of 130 international carriers currently servicing the city.

“Increased competition is good for the consumers,” McWilliam said of the announcement. “It develops and grows the destination’s market, and this will grow the overall market share for Dubai.”

In addition, all eyes are in its direction with the World Expo set to take place there in 2020, an event that McWilliam said will welcome an estimated 25 million visitors. This will be the first time that the World Expo is staged in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

When asked about potential safety concerns from the Canadian market regarding travel to the Middle East, McWilliam said that as far as he can tell, there seems to be minimal effect on Emirates' numbers as they apply to Dubai-bound passengers.

“We have seen little concern at all expressed with regards to travel to Dubai,” he said. “It is a resilient and stable country, and our load factors have remained at over 90 per cent all year long in 2014. It’s still a major hub for us, and most consumers are aware that in regions where there is uncertainty, Dubai is not affected by that.”

Having travelled to Dubai 12 to 16 times throughout the past four years, McWilliam said he is continually impressed by the growth that he sees within the city. “As a destination, it’s got everything. It’s got sun, restaurants, attractions -- it’s a world class city that is expanding like crazy.”

As for its aggressive growth path, 2014 was another successful year for the airline, marking its 26th consecutive year of profit, having opened eight new destinations around the world including service to Dubai from Chicago and Boston, and being named "most valuable airline brand worldwide" by The Brand Finance Global 500 report.