Emirates Airlines’ Business Model


Among the many airlines in the world, Emirates Airlines is one of the recognized and successful companies that, despite its relatively short work in the target market, has proven its competitiveness and resilience. The airline was founded in late 1984 at the initiative of the then UAE Minister of Defense, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum (The Milestones in Emirates’ Incredible Journey). During a little more than 30 years of operation, Emirates Airlines has acquired the status of one of the world’s leading air carriers.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, about 16 million passengers used the services of this carrier, which indicates high demand both nationally and internationally (The Milestones in Emirates’ Incredible Journey). At the same time, the success of Emirates Airlines can be attributed not only to efficient management and sufficient assets but also to the competent marketing policy that the company’s management promotes. When building a value proposition for each customer segment, the airline follows the principles of segmentation, targeting, and positioning. These strategies are the three main components of Emirates Airlines’ business and allow it to maintain a sustainable demand among different categories of passengers.

Emirates Airlines’ Marketing Strategy

Emirates Airlines is a subsidiary of the national airline company called Emirates Group. The parent company, in turn, is controlled by the UAE government (Bhasin). However, despite the fact that Emirates Airlines is not a private airline, investments in its development are regular, as evidenced by constant optimization and innovation. According to Alshubaily, in its marketing strategy, the company “relies on the 4Ps of the marketing mix to design and tailor its products to the consumers and expand its market share” (32).

These 4Ps are commonly known as the variables of product, promotion, place, and price. When talking about a deeper approach to the formation of the target market and creating a productive offer, Emirates Airlines promotes specific development approaches. They are the aforementioned strategies of segmentation, targeting, and positioning, which are the components of the marketing plan that allow addressing the interests of as many passengers as possible.

Emirates Airlines’ Segmentation

Segmentation, as a business model, involves dividing the target audience into separate groups, or segments, to promote goods or services as efficiently as possible and address the needs of specific populations. With regard to Emirates Airlines, the airline uses “geographic & psychographic segmentation strategies” to build a value proposition for each customer segment (Bhasin). The geographic dimension implies allocating specific flight directions so that passengers can choose relevant routes (Heiets et al. 359).

This aspect is important because the UAE, being the country with a consistently high frequency of tourist visits, needs to interact with the airports of different states. The more flights to different countries Emirates Airlines can operate, the greater the potential profit, and the more willingly passengers will use the services of this airline. Therefore, geo-segmentation is an effective approach to expand the target audience and provide the breadth of service.

Psychographic segmentation is another approach that the company in question is promoting. This business principle involves dividing target passengers in accordance with their individual characteristics, for instance, lifestyle, beliefs, activities, values, and some other criteria. To meet different passengers’ needs, Emirates Airlines is promoting quality management principles in its business strategy (Alshubaily 35).

These initiatives relate to the convenience of flights, quality of service, and other factors that can help retain the target audience and attract new passengers. As Alshubaily argues, “the use of both Boeing and Airbus is aimed at satisfying different consumer interests” (35). This means that the airline in question is making significant efforts to address the interests of its customers and create an environment in which the passenger can feel comfortable regardless of his or her individual opinions or lifestyle. Thus, the segmentation strategy is an essential attribute of Emirates Airlines’ business model that helps expand the spectrum of influence.

Emirates Airlines’ Targeting

This business approach involves interacting with the public through targeted offers designed to address the interests of each individual passenger group. Heiets et al. state that to build a value proposition through such a strategy, Emirates Airlines promotes the principle of effective customer management to establish sustainable interactions with different categories of customers (360). As a dynamic and flexible airline, Emirates Airlines creates targeted offerings to diverse populations.

For instance, Alshubaily notes that “the Generation Y, the baby boomers and persons with disabilities have different demands that will need to be considered” (35). By creating targeted offers for each of these groups, the company can count on the successful retention of passengers. The airline staff is trained specifically to interact with different customers and be ready to solve the necessary tasks. These initiatives drive customer base growth, thereby increasing profits.

The implementation of the targeting strategy can take place in different ways, which is largely achieved due to the abundance of modern communication channels and interaction with customers. Alshubaily mentions popular online media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, and notes they are powerful communication tools (35). The researcher also focuses on traditional media, for instance, magazines, which are convenient as promotion instruments for the older generation (Alshubaily 35).

Pricing policy is also a tool for influencing the interests of passengers and building a value proposition. Alshubaily draws attention to the “value-for-money principle” and remarks that this approach is based on maintaining the quality-price balance in the provision of air transportation services (35). Every customer segment, regardless of socio-cultural or other characteristics, can count on a suitable offer for the cost of flights. This practice meets modern standards for the breadth of service offerings and helps attract and retain passengers of different ages, income levels, and preferences.

Emirates Airlines’ Positioning

Positioning is a business model that helps Emirates Airlines differentiate itself from other airlines and increase its position in its target market. In its marketing activities, the company promotes itself as the most preferred national air carrier, which suggests that it adheres to the value-based positioning approach (Bhasin). In addition, according to Heiets et al., Emirates Airlines is actively working to increase its competitive advantage through innovation, thereby improving the convenience of air travel and retaining customers (370).

In its approach to building a value proposition, the airline pursues different principles. Among them, the authors mention high-quality service, technological equipment of aircraft cabins, sufficient number of flights to all continents, participation in tourism programs, and other activities (Heiets et al. 375). These initiatives are aimed at providing the company with a competitive advantage over other national airlines and to ensure the sustainable growth of its customer base.

Specific facts confirm the quality of the positioning strategy that Emirates Airlines is pursuing to build its value proposition. For instance, Heiets et al. indicate the number of destinations to which flights of this company are sent regularly (366). They note that compared to one of its main competitors, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines is in the leading position, with 70 destinations outperforming the competitor (Heiets et al. 366).

At the same time, despite battling for a competitive lead, the airline in question is promoting strategic partnerships with Etihad Airways, thereby increasing its chances of retaining more new passengers and expanding the number of routes. For such a national airline, these activities are valuable initiatives to create sustainable demand and prove its status as one of the leading air carriers globally. As a result, Emirates Airlines’ positioning strategy can be described as effective and sustainable even in conditions of a competitive market.


The mechanisms of segmentation, targeting, and positioning are the main components of Emirates Airlines’ business. Each of these approaches is designed to expand the airline’s customer base and target as many customers as possible, thereby increasing profits and opening up new routes for air travel. Dividing the target audience in accordance with specific characteristics through appropriate proposals regarding price, quality of service, and other criteria is an effective practice to attract as many passengers as possible. Building Emirates Airlines’ value propositions is based on promoting the image of the most sought-after national airline, and partnering with the competitor is one of the successful mechanisms to expand its customer base. Quality management initiatives that involve continuous innovative development contribute to increasing the airline’s prestige in the domestic and global market.

Works Cited

Alshubaily, Abdulaziz. “Exploring the Key Success Factors for Young Airlines. A Focus on Emirates Airlines and Its Regional Competitors’ Strategy for Success.” Saudi Journal of Business and Management Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2017, pp. 30-37.

Bhasin, Hitesh. “Marketing Strategy of Emirates – Emirates Marketing StrategyMarketing91, 2018. Web.

Heiets, Iryna, et al. “Innovative Business Models for Full Cycle Operating Airlines.” International Journal of Business Performance Management, vol. 20, no. 4, 2019, pp. 356-377.

“The Milestones in Emirates’ Incredible Journey.” Emirates. Web.

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