Emirates’ Boeing 777
Emirates’ Boeing 777 is welcomed with a water cannon salute after touchdown at Porto Airport. Image Credit: Emirates

Porto: Less than two weeks of its launch on July 2, the all-new Emirates flight from Dubai to the northern city of Porto in Portugal is proving to be a soaring success.

From business travellers and tourists to natives from the historical city on the banks of the Douro River, passengers aboard the July 16 flight told Gulf News the four-times-a-week flight is a much-needed connect not just between the two bustling cities but also beyond. Gulf News was on the flight as part of a special media trip by Emirates in association with the tourism authorities in Dubai and Portugal.

South African Sandra Tererai, an oil and gas process improvement manager from Johannesburg, said, “This direct flight from Dubai is so convenient for me as I am travelling from Johannesburg. Earlier, I would have to fly to Lisbon and go from there.”

Indian septuagenarian travel buffs Lakshmi and N.V. Balasubramanian travelling from Chennai, said they couldn’t wait to explore the ancient city. Lakshmi said, “ I had read so much about Porto recently and then saw a full page newspaper ad by Emirates on this flight back in Chennai. It was too much of a coincidence, and when I told my my husband, he said lets go. So here we are.”

Dubai- based Nunu, a native of Porto, said, “In the last five years that I’ve been in Dubai, i would fly to Lisbon and it would take me over two hours to reach here. This flight to Porto was long awaited and I can now directly come home.”

Growing market

Thierry Aucoc

Thierry Aucoc, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Europe and Russian Federation, told Gulf News, “Our Lisbon route, which started in 2012, has been performing very well and we believe that adding Porto will only strengthen our Portuguese offering. The service will further open our global network to the millions of travellers who use Porto Airport every year, to points not only in the GCC but also across Africa, East Asia, South Asia and Australia. The flight will also provide travellers from across our network with a direct flight option to the city and northern Portugal via Dubai.”

He said, “Portugal as a whole is an important and growing market for us and our new service to Porto is an integral part of this, both for passenger and cargo transport. The north of Portugal is a major urban area, and along with the city’s growing popularity as a tourism and business destination, we are confident this new route will do well.”

According to Aucoc, “Emirates has flown over 1.7 million passengers to and from Portugal since the start of its operations to Lisbon,. With the addition of Porto we expect these numbers to grow.”

In terms of cargo, Emirates SkyCargo carried nearly 13.8 thousand tonnes of cargo to and from Portugal during the 2018-2019 financial year alone.

Aucoc said, “Emirates is evaluating new destinations (in Europe) on an ongoing basis, so watch this space.”

According to him, Emirates evaluates new destinations or capacity changes on existing routes based on passenger demand, commercial and operational viability, availability of aircraft in its fleet, the fit with its business strategy and necessary permissions from concerned authorities.

Ghaf-tree inspired interiors

The Emirates’ newly refurbished two-class Boeing 777-200LR aircraft to Porto sports a refreshed interior with a light and modern colour scheme, textured panels, new lighting and design accents of the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree, the national tree of the UAE.

The aircraft offers 38 Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 layout, and 264 seats in Economy Class. All cabin classes are equipped with a new generation of award-winning ice inflight entertainment system. Each in-seat screen features ultra-wide viewing angles, a capacitive touch screen, LED backlight and full HD display.

Customers can enjoy up to 4,000 channels of on-demand entertainment or project content from their own devices. They can also receive 20MB of free Wi-Fi data or unlimited use of messaging apps for two hours allowing them to log on and stay in touch with others.