Mike Martin/DUBAI

Emirates will consider taking a stake in other airlines - as it has with SriLankan - but will not rush into new ventures, Emirates chief director Group Services Gary Chapman said at the show.

"We will consider opportunities with our feet firmly on the ground," says Chapman. "There are other airlines and governments that would like us to participate in their privatisation plans as strategic partners and you never close doors."

However, he adds, recreating the success of Emirates is not easy. "It's not just a question of putting your people in there. The people of Emirates are Emirates. With SriLankan we have had a great platform to build on."

Emirates Group, which took a 40% stake in SriLankan, is well advanced in its programme to re-equip and raise standards at the Sri lankan carrier. Under a 10-year management agreement, Emirates aims to bring SriLankan's standards up to its own.

"The long-term plan is to re-fleet SriLankan and we have started to do that, with the (Airbus Industrie) A330-200s ordered on the back of contracts Emirates has. The synergies will come but the first priority is to get rid of their old TriStars."

Common buying is already translating into savings on aircraft purchase, although Chapman declines to put a figure on it. But at the level of cabin cutlery and crockery the savings on new items for SriLankan are 30%. Says Chapman: "Not only are we getting a substantial saving, but we have been able to raise standards up to Royal Doulton."

Among the keys to making the management contract work is putting in teams from Dnata Airport Services and Mercator, the information technology subsidiary of Emirates group. The two operations are ensuring that Emirates' reputation for excellence extends far beyond passenger service. Airports and other airlines around the world are beating a path to the UAE success story to take advantage of a range of services on offer.

"The name of Emirates is a major element in what we have been able to achieve," says Chapman. "The industry knows what we have done and they want to see that transferred to their operations."

Group Services is there firstly to serve Emirates, he adds, but in recent years has been earning a reputation around the world for third-party work, winning contracts for airport services and information technology applications.

On the Mercator side, the export drive culminated in a prestige contract from British Airways for its Rapid, revenue accounting system. The contract was won against BA's own IT team.

Chapman reveals that the Mercator structure is currently under review and that outsourcing some areas is under consideration. "Our ability to support the growth of the airline must not be compromised so we have to keep the way we operate constantly under review."

Source: Flight Daily News