Emirates to launch Airbus A350 flights to Australia

The all-new jet will make one of its first appearances in Australian skies.

By David Flynn, September 12 2023
Emirates to launch Airbus A350 flights to Australia

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 businesspremium 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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1205

It's good to hear EK is returning to ADL which also adds a range of European destinations for QF passengers under the JV.  SQ has done very well in ADL with EK's absence.

Not so sure about Darwin as a destination for EK.  Maybe it would make sense on a seasonal basis but, even then, the A350 stills seems a bit big.  Emirates do have on outstanding order for 787-9s which may be a more appropriate size for DRW though it is a bit hard to determine if these will ever actually be delivered.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Feb 2020

Total posts 11

ADL needs EK back servicing ADL to provide some more competition for QR/SQ/MH. Would be great to see.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2023

Total posts 4

Emirates would be far better off flying direct to CBR than DRW...more premium govt and corporate traffic and a larger population catchment area.

Do you honestly think EK just throw a dart on a world map and where it lands is where they fly? EK have obviously done some extensive analysis for Darwin/Dubai for them to talk to media here in Australia.  Good on them. Qantas should be ashamed of itself for not looking after Aussie citizens. GO EK. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 242

Emirates will be more than welcome in Adelaide, my brother and his family live there and their choice of international carriers is quite limited, although Qatar Airways has become their choice for UK & Europe.

As for Darwin, well Tim Clark doesn't toss out random statements like some other airline CEOs but I agree with this article in that the numbers don't seem to add up, at least in terms of the population. But maybe Emirates could do a 'tag' flight from Adelaide to Darwin to Dubai? The A350 wouldn't need to be daily, three times a week would suffice. Agree also that Canberra would seem to make a lot of sense but probably as a tag flight again.

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 52

I'd love an A350 to Darwin, but it would be difficult to fill it, given the greater Darwin population is just 150,000. Cairns might be a better bet, with 240,000 in the region. Or maybe a Dubai-Darwin-Cairns service that could also tap the Townsville market of 210,000? The FNQ coast is also a much bigger tourism hub than the Top End of the NT.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 123

Great idea!  I’m surprised Qatar didn’t got for that since it wouldn’t need govt approval and could tag onto BNE 

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 377

Freight would likely make up for the lack of passengers

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 64

Also they probably considered a tourism hot spot although Carins would make more sense given its close to Great Barrier Reef - lesuire markets 

Darwin is also close to Bali perhaps it become a 5th freedom route to service Bali and UAE with Darwin as a stopover and would also capture FIFO market looking to fly to Bali 

03 Oct 2018

Total posts 3

The sooner EK are back in Adelaide the better! More seats, more options can only be a good thing shame no 1st though as was always easy to get an upgrade

Darwin for Kakadu National Park, one of Australia's top tourist attractions.

EK flying to DRW is a smart move and would be viable for the following reasons : NT is a international tourism destination, People that live in northern and central Australia will be able to catch a flight from DRW rather than backtracking  to /from the Eastcoast . No doubt they would codeshare the regional flights with QF.  A lot of people live outside of the golden triangle that are underserved by airlines.

11 Mar 2021

Total posts 2

Darwin makes a lot of sense as a mini-hub for regional towns, Pacific and SEA.


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