Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: Emirates Expands Vegan Catering Options on Flights

6 months ago

Emirates is set to introduce a selection of new vegan dishes onboard its aircraft and at lounges later this year, due to a 40% increase in customer demand for plant-based meals. 

Credit: Emirates

The carrier saw over 450,000 plant-based meals served onboard in 2023 – an increase from 280,000 in 2022 – with the biggest increase in vegan meal consumption seen in Economy Class.

The new additions to the menu will join more than 300 vegan recipes that are already available in rotation across 140 destinations, and will feature a selection of options from well-known global brands including Beyond Meat, Pantai and Linnolat, amongst others.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Emirates Launches Sustainable Luggage Collection Crafted Using Upcycled Aircraft Interiors

8 months ago

Emirates has launched a limited edition collection of luggage, bags and accessories created by using upcycled materials from retrofitted aircraft.

‘Aircrafted by Emirates’ consists of a range of made to order suitcases, backpacks, handbags, cardholders, toiletry bags and belts that have been created using old aluminum headrests, leather and seatbelts collected during the retrofit of the carriers A380 and 777 aircrafts. 

Credit: Emirates

The luggage collection has been designed and handmade by tailors in a dedicated workshop at the Emirates Engineering facility in Dubai.

Aircrafted by Emirates is set to go on sale towards the end of 2024 at official Emirates Stores, with all sale proceeds being donated to children in need via the Emirates Airline Foundation

“At Emirates, we are committed to constantly evolving our sustainability efforts, and looking at every aspect of our products and supply chain. We knew these materials could be given a second life, because they are originally of very high quality. We challenged our team to be as creative and innovative as possible, and here we are, with our own accessories workshop in Emirates Engineering Centre! This initiative is a passion project for our team, and we are immensely proud of how it aligns with both our innovation and sustainability aims, and even better – that all proceeds will benefit worthy causes via the Emirates Airline Foundation,’ said Ahmed Safa, divisional senior vice president for engineering at Emirates.  

A number of pieces of luggage from the collection will  be on display at the Dubai Airshow next week.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: First Emirates Flights Powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel Depart Dubai

8 months ago

Emirates has announced that its first flights operating with sustainable aviation fuel in the Emirates have taken place, with Emirates’ flight EK 412 bound for Sydney departing Dubai International Airport on 24 October. 

315,000 gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel has been provided to the airline’s hub in Dubai by Shell, and according to a release, has enabled the airline to ‘power a number of missions’ over the course of the last few weeks.

The supplied blend has chemical characteristics that are identical to conventional jet fuel, which means that integrating the fuel into the existing infrastructure and aircraft engines can be seamlessly actioned with no modifications required.

Credit: Emirates

“We’re pushing ahead with proactive measures to enable more sustainable flying now and in the future, and powering flights from our Dubai hub is just one of the steps we’ve taken to reduce emissions and concretely help our customers minimize their own carbon footprint. We still have a long road ahead, and we hope that our partnership with Shell Aviation inspires more producers to address the supply gaps and make SAF readily available in major hubs like Dubai, as well as other points on our network,” said Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Emirates Launches New Initiative to Support Neurodivergent Passengers

8 months ago

Emirates and Dubai International Airport are working with local schools, autism groups and key stakeholders on a new initiative in an effort to improve the travel experience for neurodivergent passengers. 

Credit: Emirates

The ‘travel rehearsals’ have been designed to allow neurodivergent passengers to practice their journey through the airport and onboard aircraft, during which they are provided boarding passes and taken through security, to recreate the full travel experience. 

Throughout the process the individuals involved are accompanied by family members and therapists, with the aim of empowering families when navigating the travel process, whilst also providing key learnings for Emirates and the airport.

Credit: Emirates

One example highlighted by the operator is ‘Emirates superfan’ Humza Dabab, who is autistic. 11 year old Humza recently flew from Melbourne to Dubai with his family, and was treated to a ‘a VIP experience from Emirates’ ahead of his flight.

The travel rehearsals join a number of initiatives Emirates and Dubai International Airport currently have in place to support travelers with additional needs, including enhanced employee training, autism friendly routes to navigate the airport, priority boarding, complimentary parking and the ability to pre-order meals.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Emirates Launches Inflight Meal Pre-Order Service Across Europe

9 months ago

Emirates has expanded its inflight meal pre-order initiative across Europe, following the successful launch of the initiative on London to Dubair routes and the positive feedback received from passengers.

The inflight pre-ordering service is available to Business Class passengers, and allows them to reserve their main course up to 24 hours prior to their departure through the Emirates website and app. Onboard the aircraft, cabin crew will then use digital devices to view customer preorders.

Credit: Emirates

According to a release from Emirates, the new initiative forms part of an existing suite of AI-enabled customer preference tracking data and cabin crew reports onboard Emirates, which ‘facilitate menu planning, optimal food loading and waste minimization’.

Emirates joins a growing list of airlines developing initiatives that are designed to minimize food wastage and enhance the customer experience, including Virgin Atlantic, United and Lufthansa, among others.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Penelope Cruz is Spoilt For Choice in Latest Emirates Campaign

1 year ago

Academy Award winning actor Penelope Cruz is set to take to the skies in the latest global ad campaign for Emirates, having been announced as the airlines newest brand ambassador.

Scheduled to launch in the Summer of 2023, the Fly Better campaign will be showcased in both English and Penelope’s native language of Spanish, having been brought to life by double Oscar-winning director Robert Stromberg.

Focussing in on the campaigns key message that travel is not just about the end destination; ​it’s also about how you get there, Cruz was quoted to be ‘thrilled to partner with Emirates after years of traveling with them on some of the most special trips in my life.

Following in the footsteps of Jennifer Aniston, the campaign sees Cruz taking advantage of all that flying with Emirates has to offer, from taking a shower in the clouds to staying up to date with her favourite football team.

Credit: Emirates

“Emirates is all about Flying Better, where the journey to your destination matters as much as the place itself,” said Richard Billington, Emirates’ senior vice president of brand and advertising.

“We take care of every detail in the Emirates experience and wanted a brand ambassador who reflects the Emirates brand – it needed to be someone classy, stylish, and having modern global appeal. Penelope was the perfect fit.”

At the 2023 Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking to highlight advertising campaigns that have been created with the intent to drive action. 

If you have an exciting marketing initiative that deserves to be celebrated, head over to the Skift IDEA Awards and start your application today.


Dubai Sets 2026 for Launch of Air Taxis

1 year ago

Dubai has yet again revealed its plans to connect the city through flying taxis and expects to launch aerial taxi operations by 2026.

In 2017, the city had test-flown a driverless vehicle called the Autonomous Air Taxi, that was touted to be the world’s first self-flying taxi service set to be introduced by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

Announcing the plans for the aerial taxi on Sunday evening, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, tweeted, “We approved today the design of the new air taxi stations in Dubai, which will start operating within three years.”

The prototype models of aerial taxi vertiports have been developed by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

Vertiports encompass a range of facilities such as designated take-off and landing zones, a passenger waiting area, security protocols, and electric charging stations, said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

“These stations seamlessly integrate with other modes of transportation,” Al Tayer said.

The aerial taxi vertiport will be located near Dubai International Airport, which when complete will make Dubai the first city in the world with a fully developed network of vertiports.

The terminal for aerial taxis will be connected to the Emirates Metro Station via an air-conditioned bridge, according to a release.

“The next step involves identifying exceptional investors who are experts in building the necessary infrastructure for the air mobility industry,” Al Tayer added.

With top speeds of 186 miles per hour and a maximum range of 150 miles, the aircraft will seat a pilot and four passengers.

The promotional video released by the Dubai government features an aircraft from air taxi startup Joby Aviation.

The initial network of vertiports will connect four main areas of Dubai — Downtown Dubai (Burj Khalifa area), Dubai Marina, Dubai International Airport and Palm Jumeirah.

While working on a comprehensive framework for the operation of such vehicles, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority will also outline the flight paths for the vehicles, identify take-off and landing sites, and specify necessary equipment for safe and efficient operations.

“The launch of the service hinges upon the preparedness of the companies and the legislative requirements for operating aerial taxis. This also involves a thorough examination of all operational details and ensuring that all safety and security measures are in place,” Al Tayer explained.


Dubai Scraps 30 Percent Tax on Alcohol to Woo More Tourists

1 year ago

In a further liberalization of regulations to attract more tourists, Dubai has scrapped the 30 percent municipality tax on alcohol.

Also, tourists and expats will no longer need to pay a fee to secure a personal liquor license to purchase alcoholic beverages. However, an Emirates ID, or passport for tourists, will still be required.

However, all alcohol sales will continue to attract a 5 percent value-added tax. Also, the United Arab Emirates will be introducing a 9 percent federal corporate tax from June.

The scrapping of the alcohol tax is said to be in place for a trial period of one year, until December 31, 2023, according to local media.

Dubai is looking to position itself as a leading tourism destination in the Middle East in the face of increasing competition from destinations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are also looking at tourism as key to diversifying the economy.

Last month, United Arab Emirates launched a national tourism strategy that intends to attract 40 million hotel guests by 2031.

The change that came into effect from Sunday, was confirmed by Maritime and Mercantile International, one of the biggest alcohol retailers in the United Arab Emirates and a subsidiary of the state-owned Emirates Group.

Calling the emirate’s approach dynamic, sensitive, and inclusive, Maritime and Mercantile International, stated, “These recently updated regulations are instrumental to continue ensuring the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai as well as boost the dynamic hospitality industry.”

The alcohol retailer also confirmed that prices in its 21 stores across Dubai have decreased by 30 percent.

The legal age for alcohol consumption in the United Arab Emirates is 21 years and above, and alcohol can only be consumed privately or in licenced public places.

Dubai has been progressively updating its restrictions on alcohol sale and consumption, allowing the sale of alcohol in daylight during the holy month of Ramadan and approving home delivery of alcoholic beverages during the Covid lockdown.

In September 2020, Abu Dhabi had announced that residents as well as tourists would be allowed to buy and possess alcohol from shops and consume it within hotels, clubs and other outlets without having to purchase a special licence.

Business Travel

Amex GBT Partners With Dnata to Meet Middle East’s Growing Corporate Travel Demand

2 years ago

American Express Global Business Travel has partnered with Emirates Group-owned dnata to offer its global clients more local expertise in the Middle East region.

The agency has signed a “preferred travel partner agreement” with Dubai-based dnata Travel Management. It will provide full end-to-end travel and meetings management services to Amex GBT’s customers, the company said.

Dnata Travel Management is part of the dnata Travel Group, which is the travel division of dnata, a global air and travel services provider. Amex GBT, and other travel agencies, often establish these types of partnerships with “local travel partners” in countries where they do not have a proprietary operation.

The pair also have some history, as dnata acquired a 23 percent stake in corporate travel agency Hogg Robinson Group in 2008, which was bought by Amex GBT a decade later. Alongside investment firm Boron it was a significant minority shareholder at the time.

The tie-up comes as the Middle East embarks on a number of large scale projects, including Saudi Arabia’s Neom project. The country is eying a 100 million-visitor target per year by 2030. “Saudi has huge ambitions,” the tourism authority’s chief technology officer Choon Yang Quek said during Skift Global Forum earlier this year.

“We look forward to working with Amex GBT and its clients as the region sees strong growth in corporate travel, fuelled by mega-projects and companies that are seeking to expand,” said Rashid Al Awadhi, senior vice president – dnata Travel Group, Middle East and India.

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer at Emirates Airline, will be speaking at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai, which takes place December 13-15.


Emirates Ends JetBlue Partnership Ahead of Expected United Pact

2 years ago

In the latest hint of a major change to Emirates’ U.S. strategy, the Dubai-based airline is ending its partnership with JetBlue Airways on October 30.

The change, which was first reported by The Points Guy, comes as Emirates prepares to hold a joint “special event” with United Airlines on September 14. The United announcement is expected to include a codeshare partnership that would see both Emirates and United connect their passengers onto the other carriers’ flights.

(Chris Sampson/Flickr)

Emirates and JetBlue have been partners since 2012. The tie up has had commercial ripples through the industry, for example, it forced United to end flights to Dubai in 2016 after the partners won the U.S. government contract for travel to the Gulf city. And Fort Lauderdale — a major base for JetBlue — was Emirates’ sole destination in South Florida from 2016 until 2020; Emirates swapped Fort Lauderdale for Miami in 2021, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

JetBlue, like Emirates, notified frequent flyers on its website that the partnership with Emirates would end on October 30.