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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MGS Chat: Emirates Airlines' Nigel Page

Set to begin nonstop service to Los Angeles’s LAX Airport starting October 1 and San Francisco’s SFO on November 20, Emirates Airlines senior vice president of commercial operations of the Americas, Nigel Page, answered my three burning questions.

MEDIA GUY: You offer gratis chauffeur service to and from the airport from 26 locations (including New York, Paris, Doha and Dubai) for first- and business-class passengers, but what about amenities for the regular passenger?

NIGEL PAGE: Our current economy class does offer plenty of room and excellent service including fine multi-course meals and in-flight entertainment with over 600 channels of on-demand programming, as well as Short Message Service (SMS), phone and email at their seats.

MG: What’s been your biggest challenge as an airline?

NP: We’ve always said that our biggest obstacle has been to try us once. Once we get them on the plane, we find we have a customer for life. Whether it’s seven-course meals prepared by some of the best chefs in the world or the air’s most exclusive wine lines or even being able to access personal email accounts (Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo) on your wi-fi laptop, our experience is unparalleled.

MG: Do you think you could be this successful without the help of the Dubai government (the airline’s owners)?

NP: They have definitely taken a “you are on your own” attitude towards the airline. They give us no subsidies and no fuel discounts. I suppose the best subsidy they have given is the incredible tourism destination that is being created. Our strategic hub between Europe and Asia, along with strict control of costs and a dedication to employees are some of our success secrets. The importance of job security for our employees with no layoffs or downsizing keeps us from the cruel cycle of low morale, poor service and ultimately decreased profits.