Emirates to serve Seattle with Everett-built 777s beginning March 1

SEATTLE — The new Emirates Airlines route from Seattle to Dubai could create opportunities for Snohomish County.

Emirates will launch the route from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on March 1. The carrier will use a Boeing Co. 777-300 Extended Range jet for the route.

“People outside the area might not realize the business potential here,” Nigel Page, Emirates senior vice president of commercial operations for the Americas, said during a press conference Thursday.

Page also believes the airline’s new route will bring business and tourism opportunities for the Puget Sound region. There’s already about $3 billion of annual trade taking place between the two regions, he said.

That’s due in part to Emirates orders for Boeing’s 777. Emirates is the largest operator of 777s in the world, with 98 of the Everett-built jets in service. The carrier has orders for an additional 97 777s.

The 777 “is an extremely economical aircraft. It’s very reliable,” Page said. And “our passengers just love them.”

Emirates will receive the 1,000th Boeing 777 built on March 2, the day after the Seattle-to-Dubai route opens.

Page thinks that passengers using the Emirates service between Seattle and Dubai will include a large number of Indian expatriates who work in Seattle’s software industry. Emirates has 185 flights weekly to India.

He also sees the service as a popular one for people on the West Coast who want to travel to Africa without traveling through Europe. Page estimated that about 40 percent of Seattle travelers will fly the airline with Dubai as their end destination.

“I think people in Seattle would just love it in Dubai,” he said.

He feels the same about the reverse and sees an “enormous potential” for the Puget Sound region, including Snohomish County, to benefit from increased tourism as a result of the new service.

“I look forward to working with local tourism officials. I think the lifestyle here is a very attractive one,” Page said.

On Thursday, Emirates and Alaska Airlines announced a frequent-flier partnership, which allows passengers enrolled in either airline’s program to accrue miles when flying the other carrier.

“This partnership really allows Alaska to punch above its own weight,” said Caroline Boren, Alaska’s managing director of loyalty marketing and customer advocacy. “We’ll be the only U.S. airline partner for Emirates.”

The partnership with the Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is a further demonstration of Emirates’ commitment to the region, Page said.

For more on the frequent flier partnership, go to www.emirates.com/us or www.alaskaair.com.

Herald writer Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-9304 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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