May 15, 2020

Emirates pays warm tribute to Merrill J. Fernando on his 90th birthday

The shared passion that attracts like-minded organisations to each other was clearly articulated when Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, greeted Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando recently, on the occasion of the 90th birthday of the celebrated Sri Lankan entrepreneur and humanitarian.

The occasion coincided with Fernando’s 70th anniversary in the tea industry, and a video greeting from Emirates Vice President – Catering, Global Food & Beverage Darren Bott captured the warmth and respect between the two companies, which have worked together for 28 years to serve a selection of Ceylon Teas created by Dilmah on Emirates flights across the globe.

“It goes without saying,” Bott said, “that you are an industry legend, absolutely a father figure of the international tea community. It is an absolute pleasure for me and the Emirates team to have worked alongside you for the past 28 years. As you know, at Emirates we take great pride in serving your tea selections on board, and over the course of our 28 year partnership we have together created some fantastic money-can’t-buy experiences for our guests.”

“The most recent was our world’s highest tea master class aboard one of our A380s in the bar, when you and I hosted our guests. What a fantastic experience it was. I think it’s fair to say Merrill that these types of experiences we have created really do aspire to what both of our organisations try to achieve, and really continue to lay the foundation for our great partnership.”

Bott added: “Merrill, your 70 years of dedication to producing and delivering an incredibly consistent high quality tea and your infectious approach to the truly great work you do for your country and community is something that we at Emirates really truly admire. Your philosophy of bringing integrity back in to tea, your personal mission through your efforts of sustainability to make our world a better place for our future generations, and your generous, generous endeavours to give back to the underprivileged will always be your lasting legacy, I guess. Merrill, we like to thank you and congratulate you and on behalf of the entire Emirates team I would like to wish you a healthy, safe and very, very happy 90th birthday.”

The longstanding partnership between Emirates and Dilmah results in the brewing of the finest Ceylon teas on board and in Emirates airport lounges around the world. Today, the airline serves a special selection of 12 Dilmah teas catering to the tastes and sensory preferences of all its customers – including an exclusive tea created just for the airline.

Each year, Emirates brews more than 33 million cups of Dilmah tea for its customers from the specially curated tea menu available in all classes, taking the Dilmah brand to more than 158 destinations on six continents. The pinnacle of the airline’s tea selection is the exclusive Emirates Signature Tea served only in First Class –a single-estate tea made from Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe 1 leaf growing on the Dombagastalawa Estate, in Sri Lanka’s Nawalapitiya region. The artisanal tea is made with a sprinkling of marigold and safflower, combined with the sensual fragrance of rose, a firm almond note and a touch of ginger representing flavours of the Middle East.

Resplendent Ceylon is part of the Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company. Founder Merrill J. Fernando dedicated his life to tea when in the 1950’s, he saw the concentration of ownership in the tea industry in the hands of a few large corporations. His desire to make his tea ethical, is honoured in the work of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

This article originally appeared in The Daily FT and can be accessed on–Fernando-on-his-90th-birthday/8-700242