Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Forging friendly connections: Emirates airline chief gets a traditional Maori greeting

When Emirates made its inaugural flights to Auckland via Sydney and Melbourne, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum was greeted at the airport with a hongi in 2003

Getty
Getty

At the height of the New Zealand winter back in 2003, Emirates made its inaugural flights to Auckland via Sydney and Melbourne. Pictured here is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the airline’s chief executive and chairman, right, who arrived on the first flight from Sydney on August 2 and was welcomed at Auckland Airport with a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting. Helen Clark, New Zealand’s prime minister at the time, was also there to greet the UAE delegation.

The new services offered passengers 14 flights per week across the Tasman Sea. A few months later, on October 26, a daily service to Brisbane also launched. The move came only nine months after Clark visited the UAE to discuss the possibility of new routes between Auckland and Dubai.

In 2016, a non-stop service – one of the world’s longest flights – launched with a double-decker A380. Flight time is just under 16 hours from Dubai and just over 17 hours when returning from Auckland.

Updated: August 1, 2019 07:30 PM

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