//`Emirates will promote Kerala'

`Emirates will promote Kerala'

NEW BEGINNING: Emirates Airlines and Group chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, along with Principal Secretary, Tourism, E.K. Bharat Bhushan, and Emirates (India and Nepal) vice-president Salem Obaidella, cutting a cake to mark the inaugural f light of the airlines to the city on Thursday. Photo: S. Mahinsha

Thiruvananthapuram: Emirates will promote Kerala through its vast network of offices in West Asia and help bring more leisure and business travellers from the Gulf countries and from the other destinations to which it operates, Emirates Airline and Group chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum has said.

Launching the direct non-stop service of Emirates from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram at the beach resort of Kovalam on Thursday evening, the Sheikh said Emirates would be able to promote Kerala and the State capital through Emirates Holidays, the largest wholesale tour operator in the Gulf and West Asia. The key attractions of the State will be included in the World of Choice brochures and will be distributed through travel agents in West Asia to potential travellers.

He said the Emirates’ service to the city is expected to benefit Kerala’s key industries, including leisure, medical tourism and information technology, which will now have access to new markets and greater opportunities. The Dubai-based airline will also facilitate travel for Kerala’s burgeoning non-resident Indian community.

The Emirates SkyCargo’s specialised products and services will facilitate the export of fresh vegetables, foodstuff, garments, textiles, coir products and handicrafts and support the needs of the State’s freight industry by facilitating the import of electronics, household consumer goods, computer parts and spares. The group will also contribute to the local economy by recruiting staff and opening a dedicated sales office, he added.

Asked whether the airline has plans to operate flights to Kozhikode, the Sheikh said the airline’s objective is to begin services from its hub in Dubai to across the world. On whether the Emirates was going in for increasing the stake in other airlines, he said: "We have been approached by different airlines. We are concentrating now on the big expansion programme and development of Emirates."

On the extension of the open sky policy of the Union Government to the Gulf sector, he said the Government should concentrate on building infrastructure facilities in the airports.

Thiruvananthapuram is the sixth destination in the country and the second city in the State to which the airline has started services.