For Emirates, 2019 has been a year of strategic recalibration to build firm foundations for the future in an increasingly volatile business environment.
At the beginning of the year, we were hit by the news that Airbus would end the A380 programme. As our brand flagship and a differentiator for Emirates, the A380 will remain a pillar in our fleet well into the 2030s, and we will continue to invest in the best onboard products and services for our customers. Nevertheless, this forced us to review our network and fleet with a new set of parameters. We took stock of what our network will look like in the next 5-10 years, and what our fleet composition should be to support that network.
At the Dubai Airshow, we announced firm aircraft commitments for 50 A350-900 XWB aircraft and a full purchase agreement for 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Both of these aircraft types are fuel efficient, and will provide us with flexibility in terms of range and payload capacity, especially for our medium and long haul operations.
The A350 and Boeing 787 will also complement our existing Boeing 777 and A380 fleet, providing us with greater seat spread to serve a range of destinations that we could not access in the past, and cater to seasonal and opportunistic demand as we develop our global route network.
On the network side, our cornerstone partnership with flydubai continues to generate immense value for both sides, and most importantly, benefits our customers. In the coming year, we will continue to ramp up our strategic partnership when it comes to schedule coordination and enhanced connectivity, competitive pricing, network planning and seamless journeys at DXB, in addition to extracting more benefits for customers through our frequent flyer programme.
All of these developments will enable both Emirates and flydubai to provide the network spread and connectivity to ensure a successful Expo Dubai 2020 in helping to deliver the expected 25 million visits to the event.
This year, Emirates had to soldier through necessary infrastructural upgrades at DXB with a southern runway closure that lasted for 45 days. As a result, we implemented dynamic schedules by integrating smarter operational insights around seasonality and demand, slimmed down capacity, and worked closely with our stakeholders to continue to deliver an excellent customer experience.
Ongoing trade disputes and geopolitical uncertainties in many markets are imparting a negative halo effect on market sentiment. Although lower fuel costs have provided some relief, currency fluctuations continued to erode our bottom line. As a global airline, we will continue to face headwinds with a clear strategy and agility that draws on the unique strength and flexibility of our business model. We will continue to invest to provide ever better products and services, so that we can retain our loyal fans, while attracting new and emerging customer segments.
We are also capturing substantial growth and value through our ongoing investments in innovation and digital technologies, as we work hard to stay ahead of shifting consumer preferences. Onboard, we are becoming even more connected with ice playlist synching through the Emirates App, and on the ground, we are piloting solutions in biometrics for even more hassle-free customer journeys through the airport.
In the coming year, we will innovate further to ensure we can deliver greater personalisation, choice and control for our customers.
Sustainability has always been part of our agenda, even before the current environmental debates, and we will continue to take measured and calculated strides to do right by our planet.
As a business, we’ve always been passionate about protecting the planet, whether it’s operating a young, modern fleet that consumes less fuel, implementing eco-efficient operational practices in the air and on the ground, stripping out single-use plastic and reducing waste, our partnership with United for Wildlife to tackle illegal wildlife trafficking, or our long-standing habitat preservation work in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in Australia.
There are industry challenges ahead, but we are walking the talk, making carefully-considered changes that have long-lasting impact, and ensuring we continue to add younger, lighter aircraft with significantly more efficient engines into our fleet.
Despite the headwinds, 2019 has been an eventful and successful year for Emirates, where we’ve once again demonstrated the resilience of our business model, and the strength of Dubai as a hub for aviation and tourism. As always, we are determined to keep growing and investing in our business, and we will continue, as we have always done, to achieve excellence by turning challenges into opportunities.