Emirates airline says Sir Maurice Flanagan, the first managing director of the carrier who helped it get off the ground three decades ago, has died.

The Dubai-based airline Flanagan was instrumental in launching now ranks as the Middle East's biggest carrier. It said Thursday the Briton died at his home in London.

It did not provide his age or a cause of death.

A former manager at British Airways, Flanagan in 1978 became director and general manager of Dnata, the ground services company serving Dubai's airport.

He was tapped in 1985 to lead a 10-man team charged with launching a new airline, Emirates, and became its first managing director. He retired as executive vice chairman of the airline's parent company Emirates Group in 2013.