Brisbane is the next Australian city to roll out the welcome mat for the Emirates A380 superjumbo, and in a move which speaks to the resurgence of international travel, it’s arriving almost four months ahead of schedule.
Emirates previously planned to replace its Boeing 777 with the double-decker A380 as of June 17, but superjumbo will now run daily on the Brisbane-Dubai route from March 2.
It will be welcomed by travellers eager to swap that long 14+ hout trek on the older Boeing jets for the quieter modern A380, especially when it comes to the more spacious business class seats and private first class suites, plus of course that iconic cocktail bar.
The returning confidence among Australian travellers, coupled with the reopening of the national border from February 21, signifies Emirates’ restored confidence in the resurgence of international travel.
“Since late last year, we have been busy quickly adapting our operations and boosting capacity in response to demand arising from the re-opening of our borders," noted the airline’s Australian chief Barry Brown.
“With the latest changes we have introduced to our operations in Australia, travellers to and from Brisbane will have more opportunities for leisure and business travel.”
That said, none of these Australian-bound A380s feature Emirates’ new premium economy seats – but with those comfortable recliners being added to 52 of Emirates' flagship Airbus A380s and 53 Boeing 777s from the end of 2022, there’s a solid chance they’ll be available to Australian flyers next year.
Adelaide is still MIA
Still missing from Emirates’ map is Adelaide: the carrier remains tight-lipped about when it would recommence flights to the City of Churches, saying it “is one amongst many cities where Emirates operations remain suspended due to ongoing impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We hope to restart our operations in Adelaide when it is commercially and operationally feasible to do so in the future,” a spokesman for the airline told Executive Traveller.
And while Emirates’ lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth remain shuttered for now, it has confirmed a plan to reopen them in the second half of 2022.
Emirates counts 123 superjumbos in its globe-striding fleet, and earlier this month took delivery of the last A380 ever to be built, as Airbus ended production of the world’s largest commercial airliner just over 15 years since its inaugural flight.
“It defined us, in many respects,” noted Emirates president Sir Tim Clark. “We’ve spent an inordinate amount on product, both in flight and on the ground, and that’s really paid off.”
And Clark intends to sweat that substantial investment, with the A380s set to still be flying “until the mid ‘30s” as they’re gradually replaced by the next-generation Boeing 777X.
By the end of this decade and the beginning of the next, Emirates' heavy-duty fleet strategy will involve “using the A380s on the trunk routes, barreling through from east to west and north to south... with the 777X gradually slipping in to replace the A380s that eventually retire.”
Additional reporting by David Flynn