EMIRATES has delivered around a million bottles of whisky from Scottish distilleries over the past year after its expanded Glasgow-Dubai service saw a 50% increase in cargo volumes.
The airline said demand for rapid delivery of whisky in the Middle East, Asia and Australasia last month had helped it carry a record volume of freight for November.
Overnight deliveries of fresh seafood from Scotland to restaurants in Dubai has also contributed to the growth, serving wealthy diners' appetite for razor clams, oyster and salmon.
Loading article content
It moved from a daily service to twice-daily in June, increasing the number of passenger seats from 248 to 627 and is due to introduce a bigger, Boeing 777-300ER, in January which will add a further 93 seats in each direction.
Among the notable shipments of whisky carried by Emirates recently are three bottles of Ernest Shackleton's Whyte & Mackay which were left in the Antarctic during the explorer's 1907 expedition before being discovered a century later.
They were then taken to Scotland where the distiller took samples used to make a reproduction blend of the malt before being flown to New Zealand by Emirates earlier this month.
Laurie Berryman, Emirates' vice president for UK and Ireland, said: "We've recorded our busiest ever month for cargo in November, with an increase of over 50%, carrying 630 tonnes of cargo on 60 flights.
"This year we have moved more than one million kilos of Scotch whisky, which is probably around one million bottles.
"It is a product that you would expect to be exported more by boat, but it seems to suddenly run out. There's a real demand in Far East countries.
"We've seen some very interesting whiskies including a Chivas Regal in diamond encrusted bottle, worth £500,000, and three bottles of whisky which were sent to the Antarctic Heritage Trust in Christchurch.
"We also export a significant volume of seafood: razor clams, oyster and salmon, which are sent overnight on the 9pm flight for use in Dubai in the morning."
Mr Berryman added the flights showed that the best way for Scotland to emerge from a recession was through exports to countries whose economies were still performing strongly.
The flights are due to carry 150,000 passengers a year, a third of whom are visiting from the rest of the world. Of those, 70% are leisure passengers and 30% business, Mr Berryman said.
The export growth was welcomed by the Scotch Whisky Association, whose communications manager, Rosemary Gallagher, said: "Scotch Whisky is exported to more than 200 markets worldwide and demand is increasing.
"Exports to United Arab Emirates grew by 16% to £82 million last year and some of this is distributed to markets across the Middle East and Asia. While the majority of exports go by sea freight, air can be popular for smaller orders which are required to reach their destination quickly."
Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: "Clearly, the introduction of Emirates' second daily service from Dubai at the beginning of June has been a huge success. The route has provided a significant boost to Glasgow's competitiveness and has been a major step forward in terms of forging greater business links and increasing visitor access from the likes of China, India and Australia."
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: "Emirates' twice daily service to Dubai is of huge economic importance to Glasgow and Scotland as a whole.
"The decision to upgrade the aircraft so soon after the launch is further evidence of this success and it will, once again, increase Emirates' capacity to and from Glasgow."