Before leaving the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and moving to the Middle East, I found myself breaking the story of Emirates Airline extending to Newcastle Airport. It was big news for the city as it was the airport's first long-haul route and would make trekking across the world much easier for travellers in the North East. I found out the announcement by chance when I came across online travel agents offering tickets before the press had even been informed.
Come Dubai with me
by Paul McMillan, Front page Newcastle Evening Chronicle; January 10, 2007
North East travellers will be able to jet off to the Middle East and beyond as Emirates airline touches down in Newcastle.
The airline, one of the world's leading carriers, is starting daily long-haul flights from Tyneside to Dubai on September 1, the first scheduled long-haul flight to operate from Newcastle Airport.
It is expected to revolutionise air travel for North East passengers by offering a hassle-free gateway to 80 long haul destinations in the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent having previously had to catch a connecting flight to London or start from another UK airport.
The new route is also expected to generate many new jobs at Newcastle Airport and throughout the region.
Emirates will directly employ up to 15 people at Newcastle International Airport and it is anticipated will also result indirectly in the creation of scores of new positions at support services companies, such as ground handling and catering.
Although once seen as a playground for the rich, Dubai is becoming an increasing attractive holiday destination for couples and families as the cost of travel comes down. Vic Sheppard, Emirates' vice president for the UK and Ireland, said: "This new service will provide the North East with direct and convenient access to Dubai and onwards to destinations across the globe.
"No longer will travellers and cargo shippers from the North East face the unnecessary delay of connecting on to flights via London or points in mainland Europe.
"We firmly believe there is a significant potential market for Emirates in the North East, one that currently remains largely untapped, and believe this new route will prove hugely successful for both Emirates and the North East. With the involvement of the local community, it has the potential to boost inbound trade and tourism, while also helping to foster strong trade and tourism links between the North East, Dubai and other destinations we serve."
The announcement has been seen as a coup for the airport and puts Newcastle on the global map.
John Parkin, chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, says: "We are delighted that Emirates has shown such a huge vote of confidence in the region and Newcastle International Airport by introducing daily services to Dubai. Newcastle can now offer its customers direct services to one of the most important destinations in the world and an enormous choice of destinations beyond."
Business leaders have greeted the news with enthusiasm and hope it will lead to the North East forging greater links with the Middle East.
A spokesman for the North East Chamber of Commerce said: "Newcastle Airport is making tremendous efforts to increase the amount of passengers it carries and also the number of destinations it carries to.
"It's testament to all the hard work they have been doing there. From a business point of view I would have thought a route to Dubai would be extremely popular."
Budget airline easyJet is also adding another Eastern European destination to its Newcastle schedule. From March 30, passengers will be able to fly four times a week to Krakow, Poland, from £21.99 one-way. The Polish city is already served from Newcastle by rival airline Jet2.com.
North East joins the camel race
by Paul McMillan, Evening Chronicle, p21; January 11,2007
Long-haul trips will become cheaper for North East passengers when Emirates Airline comes to Newcastle Airport.
The airline confirmed yesterday that it will start operating a daily flight from the region to Dubai in September.
Lasting seven-and-a-half hours, it is Newcastle Airport's first scheduled long-haul flight and has been greeted with enthusiasm by airport officials and businesses in the region.
Holidaymakers would see the cost of trips to 80 far-flung destinations like Thailand, Australia and New Zealand drop because of the direct link to the airline's hub in the United Arab Emirates.
David Ellis, director of Newcastle-based travel agent Courtney Airsavers, said: "I think it's the most exciting thing to happen to Newcastle Airport for many years."
Emirates' arrival on Tyneside also makes global travel easier and cheaper from the North East.
Mr Ellis explained: "It's fantastic as far as we are concerned. It's not only amazing for the North East but it's fabulous for the area. It's going to open a whole new gateway so we can go from Dubai to wherever Emirates fly to all over the world.
"This is certainly going to be a money-saving situation for the North East public, but people from Cumbria, Yorkshire and even Edinburgh will come to the area to use these flights."
And firms in the region looking for business in the Middle East are also expected to benefit from the new link.
Vic Sheppard, Emirates' vice president for the UK and Ireland, said: "We firmly believe there is a significant potential market for Emirates in the North East."
Emirates flight EK036 will depart Newcastle International Airport each day at 1.40pm, arriving into Dubai International Airport shortly after midnight, local time. The return flight is scheduled to leave Dubai at 7.20am every day, arriving in Newcastle at 12.10pm.
by Paul McMillan, Evening Chronicle, p10; September 3, 2007
AFTER all the wait, Newcastle Airport's first scheduled long-haul flight took off with a fanfare.
Emirates flight from the North East to Dubai was greeted with a water cannon salute as it landed on the tarmac just before midday on Saturday.
It left on time for the Middle East at 1.40pm with hopes of a bright future for the route.
All 251 economy seats and 27 business class seats on the Airbus A330-200 had been sold out since July.
The daily service, which is also fully booked today, had been hotly anticipated since it was first announced in January.
It means passengers in the region can travel to 80 long-haul destinations without having to start from another airport or change in London.
Business leaders and tourism officials hailed the route as bringing the world to Tyneside's doorstep and also providing an incentive for foreign visitors to make the trip here.
Among the first passengers were couple Sharon Hill and Darrell Stout, who were emigrating from Longbenton, Newcastle to Perth, Australia.
Sharon, 41, and Darrell, 46, said the move had been a long-term ambition.
Sharon said: "We had plans to emigrate before the announcement but with the convenience of flying out of Newcastle we thought we would go on the first flight.
"We are emigrating for the weather and also the lifestyle, it's much better out there.
"I wanted to emigrate about 10 years ago but Darrell had children from a previous marriage so we waited for them to grow up. It's a bit scary because it's a big change."
The airline's arrival on Tyneside has created 12 permanent positions on Tyneside.
Chief operating officer Dave Laws said: "We will be creating somewhere in the region of 500 jobs over the next 12 months because of our 2007 developments and the new Emirates service.''
The new flights, taking around seven and a half hours, will leave Newcastle each day at 1.40pm, getting to Dubai just after midnight.
Link With Dubai A Hit
by Paul McMillan, Evening Chronicle, p5; January 10, 2008
MORE than 28,000 business flights have been made from Newcastle to Dubai in the first four months of the new direct air link.
Around seven out of 10 of the 40,000 flights were by business travellers and the private sector says the new route is opening up fresh opportunities in the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Both Emirates airlines and Newcastle Airport say they are delighted by the support of the North East business community.
Newcastle Airport head of airline relations and development Chris Sanders said: "We have been delighted with the very positive feedback we have received from Emirates on the performance of their Newcastle route.
"In its first four months it has beaten our passenger number expectations and we expect this to continue over coming months as more people recognise the benefit of using Dubai as a hub to reach their destination. For example, between Newcastle and Australia passenger numbers have grown significantly due to it now being just one stop en route and shorter journey times."
Laurie Berryman, Emirates' manager UK North, said: "We are delighted with the popularity of our route from Newcastle."