Taipei: With its launch of the first non-stop flight from the Middle East to Taipei on Monday, Emirates said it “will help build on the vibrant relationship between the UAE and Taiwan”.
On Tuesday, at a packed press conference in the Taiwanese capital, where there has been intense local media interest in the new service, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group and Chairman of Dubai Airports, said that Taiwan has been an important market for Emirates since the launch of freighter services in 2003. “The newly-launched Taipei-Dubai non-stop passenger flight will bring Taiwanese consumers much closer to the UAE and the Middle East. We are very optimistic about the future of this route.”
But why Taipei, and why now? Speaking to mediapersons from the Middle East on the sidelines of the press conference, Shaikh Ahmad said: “We started with the cargo operation a long time ago. I don’t remember anything less than one flight a day to any destination. We always try to [provide] a daily service, and at the same time [everyday]. I think there is a big opportunity… I am not talking specifically about the number of Taiwanese in the UAE or the region, but we expect them [Taiwanese passengers] to be flying with us even beyond Dubai. We always expect that there will be growth. We have to be ahead.”
Asked if one of the aims of launching the service to Taipei was to try to benefit from Middle Eastern travellers with business interests in Taiwan — especially those importing hi-tech products such as semi-conductors, in which the country is one of the world leaders – Shaikh Ahmad told Gulf News that indeed most of the cargo, too, was in the IT sector. “We are also focused on having them [Taiwanese hi-tech firms] use Dubai as their hub [in the region].”
Commenting on the airline’s plans for further expansion in this region, with Taipei becoming the 16th destination for Emirates in the Far East, Shaikh Ahmad told Gulf News: “Any point, in any region, if there is a market, we will serve [it]. I am sure we will be able to expand in China. If you see in Japan, for instance, we used to have one destination. Now we have three. The Far East and Australia is very [important] … close to 30 per cent of our revenue is coming from this region.”
Overall, Shaikh Ahmad said that there will always be a growth in the number of destinations. With the daily flight to Taipei, Taiwanese passengers will have easier access to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Europe with just one stop in Dubai.