Emirates intends to begin flying its Airbus A350 to Australia in mid-2024, with Adelaide in line to be among the first destinations for the advanced jet.
The Gulf carrier confirms it is “in close discussions with Adelaide Airport” for the A350’s debut, which would also mark the restart of flights between Adelaide and Dubai since the route was canned in early 2020 with the onset of the pandemic.
“Emirates’ addition of nonstop services to Adelaide is in lockstep with our commitment to Australia to expand and improve connectivity options for travellers,” says the airline’s Australian chief Barry Brown.
“We can’t wait to be back in Adelaide and once again play a key role in South Australians’ international travel plans.”
Emirates expects to take delivery of its first A350s in the middle of 2024, which it says “will facilitate further expansion of the airline’s global network by allowing its fleet to grow and freeing up more of Emirates’ long-range aircraft to serve points like Adelaide.”
The airline has not yet revealed how it intends to fit out its A350-900s, of which it has 50 on order, although a three-class configuration of business, premium economy and economy is considered most likely.
Darwin has also been cited as a potential A350 route by Emirates President Sir Tim Clark.
“I keep telling my guys you need to look at Darwin more seriously,” he remarked during a roundtable discussion with Australian media earlier this year.
And while the Top End lacks sufficient residents to fill a Boeing 777, let alone both decks of an Airbus A380, Clark feels it would be well-suited to the mid-sized A350, the first of which is due for delivery to Emirates in mid-2024.
“With the A350-900 I think we’ve got the makings of a very good aeroplane to serve markets like Darwin,” he said.
Darwin was “not as strong or robust as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane,” Clark added, “but there is movement now… I think we need to look at how we would get there and what would we do with that operation.”
However, given that Emirates doesn’t fly to Canberra with its well-heeled population of 450,000, opting for Darwin and its 150,000 population seems far from an obvious move.