Jim Baxter was named Vice President Commercial Operations, North America in February, 2000. He is responsible for Emirates’ operations in North America. Jim Baxter began his career in aviation as an experimental engineer with Pratt and Whitney Aircraft. He held a commercial pilot’s license prior to joining Pan American World Airways. Mr Jim Baxter was with Pan Am Airways and held a series of positions in marketing, sales and operations. He was Pan Am’s Regional Managing Director for Eastern USA until 1991.
Mr. Baxter’s message to business and leisure travelers is that Emirates has one of the youngest fleets of any major carrier, a global route structure encompassing over 140 destinations in 80 countries, and a product quality consistently ranked among the world’s most luxurious and innovative.
We had the chance to interview Jim Baxter. Let’s see what he had to say:
What are the key differentiators for Emirates in the West Coast, mainly Los Angeles and San Francisco? What is Emirates’ competitive advantage?
Jim Baxter: Emirates is a global connector of people, places, cultures and economies. We are one of the most global airlines in the world – in terms of our staff mix with more than 160 nationalities represented, our global footprint and customer base, and our approach to business. Our products and services from entertainment to cuisine reflect this.
Our daily flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Dubai operate by Emirates’ A380, the largest passenger aircraft and one of the most technologically advanced, quietest and environmentally friendly aircraft in the world.
Onboard Emirates’ modern and efficient fleet. Our passengers in First Class experience private First Class suites and shower spas. Business Class has flat beds as well as an onboard lounge for First class and Business class passengers. Our customers in all cabin classes experience award-winning entertainment on our signature ice entertainment and communications system, offering more than 2,000 channels of entertainment, free onboard Wi-Fi, premium international cuisines prepared by five-star chefs and fine wines.
How has flying changed over the past 10 years?
Jim Baxter: Last year marked 10 years in the US for Emirates. In that time, Emirates has expanded in the U.S. market, now serving nine U.S. gateways – Chicago (ORD), Boston (BOS), San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Washington (IAD) and New York (JFK), as well as operating a trans-Atlantic route between JFK and Milan and a freighter service to Atlanta.
In the U.S. and globally, Emirates has been a leader in onboard innovation, delivering award-winning products and services as well as access to our vast global network including Dubai and destinations beyond our hub such as India, Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand and East and South Africa.
Following two consecutive years of record deliveries and capacity increases, 2014 saw Emirates adding 27 aircrafts – 13 Airbus A380s, 12 Boeing 777-300ERs, and two Boeing 777 freighters – to its fleet. These included its 50th A380 and its 100th 777-300ER aircraft, strengthening Emirates’ position as the world’s largest operator of both the A380 and 777. These modern and efficient aircraft not only help reduce environmental impact, but also enable Emirates to offer the latest facilities and comfort on board.
Emirates continually looks at market opportunities, and over the years has introduced many “firsts” that raised the bar for what travelers expect from airlines.
How has Emirates expansion in US the last few years impacted the global network available to US travelers?
Jim Baxter: American newlyweds are now considering honeymoon destinations in the Indian Ocean like Maldives or Seychelles. As Emirates continues to grow, we’ll be able to offer the next generation of travelers new adventures throughout our network of more than 145 destinations.
Emirates’ vast global network also offers a great way to access Australia, the Indian sub-continent and many parts of Southeast Asia.
Emirates offers a stop-over program whether you’re flying to Dubai or just passing through. Passengers can enjoy an exciting stay in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. A selection of hotels and hotel apartments are available and the Emirates owned Arabian Adventures can book a variety of activities during a stop-over in Dubai.
What is Emirates most excited about in the industry right now?
Jim Baxter: Emirates’ double-digit yearly growth in the U.S. market means we are making a luxury travel experience more accessible to more and more American travelers.
Emirates continued its growth in the U.S. with upgrades in 2014 to its aircrafts in the Houston, Dallas and San Francisco markets. Additionally, Emirates will have a fourth daily service from its home and hub, Dubai International Airport (DXB), to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on March 8, 2015. Additionally, in March, 2015 an upgrade is planned for the Boston gateway to a larger Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, adding passenger and cargo capacity.
Emirates continues to expand its network providing seamless connections not just to Dubai, but beyond. Emirates has formed several partnerships with the likes of Starwood, JetBlue, & Alaska Airlines, which allows us to connect and offer more value to passengers.
Can you tell us about the Emirates Experience? What popular luxury services are available on Emirates planes?
Jim Baxter: Emirates is an enthusiastic participant in the evolution of the aviation industry, and we work hard to continually raise the bar across our business.
Emirates designs regionally inspired dishes with locally sourced ingredients and curates a wine offering that meets fine dining standards. We give every attention to detail from the quality of the produce, to the delivery of the service.
We’ve also invested in our own lounges and Chauffeur-drive services for premium passengers, multi-language contact, retail centers, and more.
“The award-winning ice entertainment system features over 2,000 channels of movies, music, TV shows and games.” Jim Baxter.
What are 5 travel tips for our readers when traveling on Emirates?
Emirates airline Cabin Crew Tips for Long Haul Travel:
- When the fasten seat belt sign is off, walk throughout the cabin to get circulation going in your legs. Remember to stretch a few times throughout the flight to get your muscles loosened up and the blood circulation going. Check out Emirates’ award-winning ice which has a channel on wellness tips.
- Sport the Emirates Cabin Crew look on flights! Keep hair tied while traveling on long flights by tying it back into a bun, braid or a low pony tail. This will keep it from tangling and keep it looking fresh when you take it down at arrival.
- Avoid sodium in processed snacks such as chips and pretzels to keep from bloating while on board. Water based foods, like fruits and raw vegetables will not only keep you hydrated and prevent puffiness, but will also give you the added boost of important antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients.
- Consider the time zone and which direction you are flying. There is some evidence to suggest that flying westwards can cause less jet lag than when flying eastwards.
- Curate an upbeat playlist of your favorite music before stepping on board or find one on the ice entertainment system. This will not only pass time, but will also help minimize stress levels.
What are recent seminal moments and achievements in your company’s history? What are some of the biggest setbacks and challenges?
For Emirates, 2014 has been a year of considerable growth, and we continue to lay the groundwork for more expansion.
Over 27 aircrafts have been delivered and we launched eight new routes including two in the US: Boston and Chicago. Our route additions are part of a larger meticulously mapped network strategy in accordance with our fleet deliveries. In fact, our record delivery of 13 A380s enabled the addition of 10 destinations to our A380 network in 2014 including Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.
In 2014, we were faced with challenges at our own hub with a runway closure that lasted for 80 days, but as ever – we rose to the test. We strategically slimmed down our operations, and worked closely with all our stakeholders to ensure we continue to deliver excellence in customer experience. The infrastructural investment paid off and the enhancements made at Dubai International has added much needed capacity, which will allow us to expand at the airport in the years to come and achieve our 70 million passenger target by 2020.
This year, Emirates will celebrate its 30th anniversary, marking 30 years of success. On October 25, 1985, Emirates flew its first route out of Dubai with just two aircrafts—a leased Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4. Our goal was quality, not quantity, and in the years since taking those first small steps onto the regional travel scene, Emirates has evolved into a globally influential travel and tourism conglomerate known worldwide for our commitment to the highest standards of quality in every aspect of our business.
Where do you see Emirates in 5 years? Paint the picture for us.
Jim Baxter: Our strategy will remain as before, focusing on growing organically, connecting city pairs that make sense for tourism and business, while offering an outstanding value proposition for our customers.
For more information, please visit Emirates.