File photo of Sir Maurice Flanagan Image Credit: FRANCOIS NEL/Gulf News

Dubai: Sir Maurice Flanagan, the founding CEO of Emirates and former executive vice-chairman of the airline, has died at the age of 86 on Thursday, his family told Gulf News.

Born in 1928 in Leigh, Lancashire, Flanagan attended initially the now defunct Leigh Boys Grammar School, but transferred later to Lymm Grammar School, and then Liverpool University.

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group said: “The Emirates Group, and Dubai, has lost a great friend today. Maurice was a man of great character, and a legend in the aviation industry. He was generous with his time, forthright in his views, and a person who gave 110 per cent to everything he did. It was a great personal pleasure and privilege to have worked with him. On behalf of all Emirates Group staff, I express our condolences to his wife Audrey, his son Julian, and his daughters Siobhan and Claire. His contributions to dnata, Emirates, and Dubai, will always be remembered.”

In a statement, Emirates said: “The Emirates Group notes with great sadness the passing of our former Executive Vice Chairman, Sir Maurice Flanagan, KBE. A founding member of the Group, Flanagan passed away peacefully today at his home in London, surrounded by his family and loved ones.

“He left British Airways in 1978 to become Director and General Manager of dnata, during the early days of Dubai’s economic development. In 1985, he led a 10-man team to launch Emirates airline with $10 million.

The airline began operations on 25 October after hectic months of planning, and Mr Flanagan became Managing Director of Emirates. In 1990, Flanagan was appointed Group Managing Director of the Emirates Group. He became Vice Chairman and Group President in July 2003, and was appointed Executive Vice Chairman in 2006, a position he held until he retired in 2013.

“During his career with Emirates, Flanagan saw the airline grow from a fledging two-aircraft operator into a leading international aviation player. He helped steer the Group’s business divisions through many challenging periods to continually deliver growth and profits. A thought leader in the aviation and travel industry, Mr Flanagan was a vocal champion for the benefits of competition and innovation. He was actively involved in many industry forums, including as a member of the Executive Committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).”