Maurice Flanagan

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Sir Maurice Flanagan
Born(1928-11-17)17 November 1928
Leigh, Lancashire, England
Died(2015-05-07)7 May 2015 (aged 86)
London, England
ResidenceDubai, United Arab Emirates
EducationLeigh Boys Grammar School and Lymm Grammar School
Alma materLiverpool University
OccupationExecutive vice-chairman of The Emirates Group
Home townLeigh, Greater Manchester
Audrey Bolton
(m. 1955, d.)
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service1951–1956
RankFlying Officer

Sir Maurice Flanagan KBE (17 November 1928 – 7 May 2015) was a British businessman, the founding CEO of Emirates and the executive vice-chairman of The Emirates Group.

Early life[edit]

Flanagan was born in 1928 in Leigh, Lancashire, England.[1] He attended initially the now defunct Leigh Boys Grammar School, starting the year World War II broke out, but transferred later to Lymm Grammar School, and then Liverpool University, where he gained a BA in History and French. He performed his National Service in the RAF as a navigator commissioned officer. Receiving a national service commission as an acting pilot officer in February 1951,[2] he was confirmed in the rank of pilot officer in November.[3] On Christmas Day, 1952, he was appointed to a commission in the RAFVR.[4][5] He was promoted to flying officer in March 1954, and relinquished his commission two years later.[6]

During an evening outing, he suffered a knee injury that ruled out a potential career as a football player, which Blackburn Rovers had shown interest in fostering.


Abandoning an athletic profession in 1953, he joined BOAC as a management trainee, subsequently working for the airline in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Peru, Iran, India and the UK.

In 1969, Flanagan was one of the winners of a TV playwriting competition run by the Observer newspaper and ITV's Saturday Night Theatre with "The Garbler Strategy",[7] a satire on management theory that starred Leonard Rossiter. Kenneth Tynan, one of the competition judges, invited Flanagan to write for the National Theatre, where Tynan was literary advisor. Flanagan chose the more sure route of a promising airline career.

Flanagan spent 25 years with BOAC and British Airways, until he was seconded from BA's senior management to Dnata, the organisation appointed by the government of Dubai to run its travel and airport interests.

In 1985, the Dubai government employed Flanagan to launch Emirates.[8] The fledgling airline received $10 million start-up capital that it repaid the following year, marking its immediate success.


After more than 60 enterprising years in aviation, including 35 years in the Emirates Group, Sir Maurice Flanagan, executive vice chairman, Emirates Airline & Group, decided to retire in April 2013.

Awards and honours[edit]

Flanagan was awarded a CBE in 2000 for services to communities in the United Arab Emirates and to aviation, and KBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[9]

Other awards include Flight International magazine's Personality of the Year, membership of the British Travel Industry Hall of Fame, Aviation Legend award by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and Honorary Fellow (the society's highest award), Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, and membership of the executive committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1955, he married Audrey Bolton, a journalist, with whom he has three children and five grandchildren.

Flanagan died at his home in London on 7 May 2015 at the age of 86.[10]


  1. ^ "Vital statistics Born: November 17, 1928", from "Emirates boss heads for bigger goals", article in The Sunday Times, 23 July 2006 (registration required)
  2. ^ "No. 39169". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 March 1951. p. 1293.
  3. ^ "No. 39466". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 February 1952. p. 854.
  4. ^ "No. 39790". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 February 1953. p. 1237.
  5. ^ "No. 39790". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 February 1953. p. 1240.
  6. ^ "No. 40169". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 May 1954. p. 2770.
  7. ^ The Garbler Strategy on IMDb
  8. ^ Bardsley, Daniel (12 May 2015). "The man who helped Emirates go from one aircraft to global aviation player". The National. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  9. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 23.
  10. ^ Gulf News report. "Emirates founding CEO Sir Maurice Flanagan dies at 86".