Last updated: 01:14 PM ET, Fri May 08 2015

Aviation Pioneer Sir Maurice Flanagan Dies at 86

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | May 08, 2015

Aviation Pioneer Sir Maurice Flanagan Dies at 86

PHOTO: In this 2008 photo, Sir Maurice Flanagan (center) receives his Doctor of Laws from the Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, Lord Owen (right) and the Vice Chancellor, Sir Drummond Bone. (Courtesy of Emirates)

Sir Maurice Flanagan, who founded Emirates Airlines and turned the Persian Gulf carrier from a two-plane operation into a major international player in the aviation world, died Thursday.

He was 86.

“The Emirates Group, and Dubai, has lost a great friend today. Maurice was a man of great character, and a legend in the aviation industry,” Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said in a statement. “He was generous with his time, forthright in his views, and a person who gave 110 percent to everything he did. It was a great personal pleasure and privilege to have worked with him.”

Flanagan was an executive with British Airways in 1978 when he left to become director and general manager of dnata, now one of the world’s largest air travel services company, during the early days of Dubai’s economic development.

Seven years later, he led a 10-man team that launched Emirates Airlines on Oct. 25, 1985.

In 1990, Flanagan was appointed group managing director of the Emirates Group. He became vice chairman and group president in July 2003, and was appointed executive vice chairman in 2006, a position he held until he retired in 2013.

Flanagan oversaw an airline that went from a two-plane operation into the behemoth it is today – so much so that the three major U.S. airlines believe Emirates is one of three Gulf carriers that have received subsidies from their respective governments and have distorted the international marketplace in their favor.

In a statement, the Emirates Group noted that “Mr Flanagan was a vocal champion for the benefits of competition and innovation.”


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