Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2014

Emirates Airline: Connecting the Unconnected

by Juan Alcacer and John Clayton


Narrates the story of Emirates, an airline founded in 1985 in Dubai that by 2013 was among the three largest commercial airlines in the world. The case emphasizes how Emirates capitalized on its location—a small city–state strategically located to reach ¾ of the world population in a flight of less than eight hours—to build a fast-growing and profitable hub-based business model. The case details how Emirates' chooses new routes, technology, and equipment and manages its human resources, marketing and branding, and government relationships—together forming an internally consistent strategy that capitalizes on opportunities across geographic markets. Importantly, students are asked to evaluate if the airlines' strategy will be sustainable as Emirates faces technical and political challenges to expand and must compete with numerous new players from the Middle East.

Keywords: competitive advantage; sustainable competitive advantage; Business Strategy; airlines; multinational; Location strategies; Geographic Location; Multinational Firms and Management; Air Transportation; Competitive Advantage; Business Strategy; Air Transportation Industry; Middle East; Dubai;


Alcacer, Juan, and John Clayton. "Emirates Airline: Connecting the Unconnected." Harvard Business School Case 714-432, January 2014.