CELEBRATIONS for Emirates' newest destination spanned two hemispheres on Tuesday with St Petersburg being the airline's theme for the Emirates Melbourne Cup in Australia.
In Melbourne, all eyes were focused on Flemington Racecourse for the 151st running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, known as the 'race that stops a nation'.
At the same time, Emirates celebrated the start of its service to the 115th destination on its network by hosting guests in its trackside St Petersburg-themed hospitality marquee.
A few hours after Dunaden beat Red Cadeaux to win the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Emirates flight EK137 departed from Dubai International bound for St Petersburg.
On board the inaugural were Thierry Antinori, Emirates' executive vice president, passenger sales worldwide; Salem Obaidalla, Emirates' senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe & Russian Federation; and Pradeep Kumar, Emirates' senior vice president, cargo revenue optimisation and systems.
Their special guests on the flight included Mohammed A. Ahli, director general, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority; Captain lbrahim Hamad Abdulla, passport administration control, Dubai International; and Ghassan El Aridi CEO, Alpha Holidays, Tours & Travel.
Emirates' executive vice president, passenger sales worldwide Thierry Antinori said: "Celebrating the launch of our daily St Petersburg service in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres truly demonstrates the depth of our global network. The Emirates Melbourne Cup underlines our commitment not only to Australia, but to the global sport of horseracing, while our new St Petersburg service shows our commitment to Russia.
In Australia, Emirates hosted a number of celebrity guests in its St Petersburg marquee, including Nicoletta Romanoff, the granddaughter of Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia and a descendent of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia.
"It is a great honour to be here in Australia to celebrate with Emirates on what has been a very special day, both in terms of witnessing the Emirates Melbourne Cup and enjoying the splendour of the marquee, which is a stunning recreation of one of my favourite places in St Petersburg - the Catherine Palace," said Ms Romanoff, who made her cinematic debut in the 2003 Italian film Remember Me, My Love, directed by Gabriele Muccino.
"St Petersburg has much to offer leisure and business travellers alike, and it is fantastic news that Emirates has added the city as its second destination in Russia."
Emirates is the Principal Partner of Victoria Racing Club and the Title Sponsor of the Emirates Melbourne Cup and Emirates Stakes.
With the St Petersburg service underway, Emirates now flies to 115 destinations in 67 countries worldwide and operates double daily flights to Moscow. The airline also offers 70 flights a week to Australia through four gateways; Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
EK flight 137 departs Dubai daily at 1040hrs, arriving in St Petersburg at 1715hrs. From St. Petersburg, the flight leaves at 1845 and lands in Dubai at 0040hrs the next day.