Business | Aviation

Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman of Emirates Airline, retires

Receives tribute from Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

  • By Francis Matthew, Editor at Large
  • Published: 17:49 April 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice-Chairman
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • A file photo of Sir Maurice Flanagan
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Dubai: Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman of Emirates Airline, retired on Sunday having been with the airline ever since it started, and received a touching tribute from Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

“I salute you as a friend and colleague. On behalf of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we thank you for the huge contribution you have made,” said Shaikh Ahmad.

“On this sad occasion Sir Maurice retires from the company, but he will remain part of the Emirates family, and Dubai will always be his home”.

Shaikh Ahmad told the assembled audience of friends and senior Emirates staff that he had shared an office with Sir Maurice for nine months when they started Emirates Airline in 1985, and added in a warm and personal tribute that “I learnt a lot from Sir Maurice. Indeed, when you see some good in me, you see what Maurice taught me. My bad habits are my own.”

Sir Maurice replied in Arabic, thanking Shaikh Ahmad for his leadership and kindness through the years. He then switched to English to tell the gathering the astonishing story of how Emirates Airline started.

After working for British Overseas Airways corporation (BOAC) and British Airways (BA) for many years, Sir Maurice had came to Dubai in 1978 to manage DNATA, but he told yesterday’s lunch that he was surprised in 1985 when Shaikh Mohammad called him to a meeting and said that he wanted to start an airline.

“I was asked how much money I would need, and being realistic I said $10 million although others were talking of $40 million or $50 million. Ten seemed like a nice safe Maktoum sort of number!” Sir Maurice recalled. “We launched with the support of His Highness, but he added that there was to be no protectionism, that Dubai would continue its Open Skies Policy, and there would be no subsidies,” he said.

“We started with two aircraft leased from PIA, and after three of four profitable years we were in the position to buy our own planes. Now Emirates has overtaken Delta to become the second largest airline in the world measured by seat-miles, which still leaves US Air/American as the largest airline, although given that alliance’s inherent inefficiencies I am sure that Emirates will overtake them very soon,” sir Maurice said trenchantly.

“The future outlook is marvellous, and growth is happening naturally from our lovely base in Dubai. Dubai Airport will peak at a maximum of 100 million passengers a year, which would limit Emirate’s growth, but the new Al Maktoum International with its capacity for another 120 million passengers will allow us to continue growing,” said Sir Maurice.

All through the lunch, warm personal tributes were paid by Emirates staff, indicating to the other guests the close and family atmosphere that exists in the fast growing airline that has 62,000 staff speaking a wide variety of languages and coming from many nationalities.

A portrait was presented painted by Vilraya Ramesh, a staff member of Emirates, and Neeraj Kumar, Senior VP, Internal Audit, Emirates Group, brought the hall to its feet clapping as he performed “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” on the mouth organ!

Sir Maurice Flanagan, KBE

1928 Born

1946 Educated at Liverpool University

1949 Conscripted into the RAF

1953 Joined BOAC

1955 Married Audrey Bolton

1978 Came to Dubai to launch and manage DNATA

1985 Launched Emirates Airline with two leased planes

2010 Knighted for services to the airline industry

2013 Emirates Airline is world’s second largest airline by seat miles

2013 Sir Maurice Flanagan retires as Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Group

Comments (7)

  1. Added 14:20 April 8, 2013

    Emirates' story is really an inspiring one to all especially how it is born and how it has reached to where it is now. The visionaries' and Mr. Maurice's role in it's history has no parallels i think, salute you Sir.

    Shiyaz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 13:55 April 8, 2013

    Sir Maurice, My big salute to you, to make such a beautiful company for Dubai. Your luck as well to be with HH Shaik Mohammed in the begining of Emirates Airlines. All the very best for your retired life.

    Noushad Karuvantevida, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:16 April 8, 2013

    Emirates and its customers can never forget Sir Maurice, i salute you Sir for your hard work. The World knows Emirates becasue of You Sir. Since 1995 in UAE i always seen your pictures and have thought you would never leave Dubai, this moment is definitely very sad. Wish you good luck and Dubai, Emirates and customers will always remember you.

    nizam, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:04 April 8, 2013

    Sir Maurice has shown the way on how to make a succesful ariline fly! I salute the spirit that he has inculcated and wish him good health and long life

    mahesh, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 11:26 April 8, 2013

    Being a resident of Dubai since 1976, I salute you for being active till you are 85 years old. You are an inspiration for many. I am 63 years old and would like to work till I am seventy years old. You have given me the strength to carry on. I hope you will write a book for the youth to build their carrier. Wishing you a happy retirement with grand and great grant children.

    Rajeev, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:59 April 8, 2013

    Emirates has set a bench mark in the airline industry. I have had such pleasent journeys in Emirates and will be flying next month to capetown. My six year old daughter wants to fly only emirates because she looks forward to the gifts they give children. Sir Maurice we pray that you have an excellent and peaceful retirement.

    Ayub Parkar, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 09:12 April 8, 2013

    Sir Maurice your dedication and leadership in the aviation industry is an inspiration to all that follow you. All the very best in your retirement

    Paul Merritt, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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