Emirates brings A380s back to Australia, New Zealand

Emirates' superjumbos return to Australia and New Zealand from late 2021, with Brisbane also gaining more Boeing 777 flights.

By Chris C., March 24 2021
Emirates brings A380s back to Australia, New Zealand

Emirates expects to bring its Airbus A380s back to Australia and New Zealand from late 2021, with superjumbo services now selling between Dubai and Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Christchurch.

The airline is also gearing up for more Brisbane flights, as well as the return of non-stop links between Dubai and Auckland, and trans-Tasman hops between Sydney and Christchurch.

These ambitious changes are set to take wing between October 31 and November 2 – the start date varying slightly by route and direction of travel – ahead of what’s normally the peak Australian summer travel period.

It’s a timeline that aligns closely with the expectations of Emirates’ joint venture partner Qantas, which is also selling seats to most international destinations from late October, being when the Australian rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in adults was first expected to be complete.

Read: Qantas plans restart of international flights in October

Even so, it’s a bold move for the world’s largest operator of the world’s largest passenger plane – particularly for an airline that relies on connecting travellers around the globe, at a time where one third of all countries are closed to tourists – but clearly, Emirates expects that to change, and change quickly.

Here’s what the airline currently has planned for each city.

Emirates’ Airbus A380 returns to Sydney

From November 1, Emirates will add a daily Airbus A380 service from Dubai to Sydney, complementing the carrier’s existing Boeing 777-300ER flights, which will also continue at five times per week.

For Sydneysiders jetting to Dubai and beyond, that A380 becomes available on departures from November 2.

The flight numbers to look are EK413 from Sydney – an evening departure, early morning arrival – and EK412 from Dubai, both of which are now on sale:

EK415/EK414, on the other hand, are Boeing 777 flights.

The most noticeable change comes for business class flyers, who'll swap the Boeing 777's 2-3-2 cabin layout with the A380's more favourable 1-2-1, with fully-flat beds on every flight:

ET review: Emirates Airbus A380 business class

Sydney-Christchurch gets the superjumbo service

Prior to COVID-19, Emirates had served Christchurch via Sydney, with a single aircraft carrying passengers from Dubai to Sydney and onward to Christchurch, and vice versa.

That plan is back on the map from November, with Sydney’s A380 flights (EK413/EK412) once again connecting Christchurch.

As before, this also gives travellers the option to book an Emirates A380 solely between Sydney and Christchurch – without travelling to Dubai – with these flights selling from November 2:

However, it remains to be seen whether the governments of Australia and New Zealand would permit trans-Tasman travellers to take such flights without the need to quarantine, as quarantine-free travel across the ditch is currently restricted to designated ‘green lane’ flights only.

Of course, the same can be said of the Australian Government for all international routes, including those that Emirates expects to ramp up later this year.

Melbourne goes all-A380 with Emirates

From November 1 (and October 31 ex-Dubai), Emirates will upgrade its existing Melbourne-Dubai services from the Boeing 777 to the Airbus A380.

These flights – EK408 from Dubai, and EK409 from Melbourne – will run daily, bringing back the popular onboard shower spas for first class flyers, and the iconic bar and lounge area for both first and business class travellers.

Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.
Emirates' second-generation Airbus A380 inflight bar and lounge.

Read: Behind the design and evolution of Emirates' Airbus A380 bar

While Emirates paused access to these amenities on Airbus A380 flights last year in response to COVID-19, the airline restored these services on Airbus A380 flights in late 2020.

ET review: Emirates' A380 first class 'shower spa'

The change means that all Emirates flights to and from Melbourne will be operated by the A380 from November, under Emirates’ current plans.

Perth gets A380s, and more Emirates flights

Like Melbourne, Perth will have its current Boeing 777 flights swapped for the A380.

This is scheduled from October 31 in each direction, on Emirates flights EK420 inbound to Australia, and EK421 outbound.

The move will also give Perth travellers more choice on timing, with the A380s set to fly daily: a significant upgrade to Emirates’ three-times-weekly Boeing 777 flights in the month prior.

ET review: Emirates Airbus A380 first class

Brisbane flights boosted, but no A380s for now

Brisbane is another destination seeing more Emirates flights from later this year, as the airline pushes from three flights per week to a daily service as of October 30 from Dubai, and October 31 from the Queensland capital.

However, Brisbane won’t see a return of Emirates’ A380s for now, with these services all scheduled as Boeing 777-300ER flights.

Passengers can still unwind in first class, with eight private suites on these jets, although business class adopts a less-favourable 2-3-2 layout, versus 1-2-1 on Emirates’ A380s.

ET review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER business class

Auckland-Kuala Lumpur-Dubai ditches the stopover

In a welcome move for many Kiwi travellers, Emirates’ flights between Auckland and Dubai will go non-stop, removing the current detour via Kuala Lumpur in each direction.

On the plus side, this shaves hours from each journey, not to mention removing a transit country from the itinerary, being one less barrier to entry in many foreign countries, where entry restrictions would apply based on travel history.

But on the other, the move involves a swap from Emirates’ three-class Boeing 777-300ERs to the airline’s two-class Boeing 777-200LRs.

This means first class will not be available on flights from Dubai to Auckland from October 31, and from Auckland to Dubai from November 1 under current schedules.

Business class passengers, of course, would see the change as a step up, trading the 2-3-2 layout of the 777-300ER (with either an angled-flat or fully-flat bed, based on chance) to a more favourable 2-2-2 configuration and a guaranteed flatbed seat on those flights.

ET review: Emirates Boeing 777-200LR business class

Emirates' broader global network

The return of Airbus A380s onto the airline’s flights to Australia and New Zealand – as well as those rejigs to other non-A380 routes – come as part of a sweeping schedule change loaded into booking systems by the airline this week.

This sees the airline also planning to return its Airbus A380s to destinations such as Hong Kong and Singapore under a similar timeframe, as well as to many cities across Europe, including key business destinations such as Frankfurt and Zurich.

Emirates flights to Adelaide, however, remain suspended.

A spokesperson for the airline previously told Executive Traveller that “we hope to restart our operations in Adelaide when it is commercially and operationally feasible to do so in the future.”

Adelaide is “one amongst many cities where Emirates operations remain suspended due to ongoing travel or flight restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Emirates’ previous ‘fifth freedom’ flights between Melbourne and Singapore also remain off the cards for now, although Emirates passengers can book codeshare flights on this route operated by Qantas from late 2021.

Also read: Emirates won't retire its A380s until "mid-2030s"

Chris C.

A former contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 209

EK must know something the rest of us dont

05 May 2016

Total posts 630

Like QANTAS they would have the flexibility to push back their plans if they need to. I can't see them flying the A380 to Australia until the international border closure has been relaxed significantly.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 379

"EK must know something the rest of us dont" Not really, October 31 is the start of the aviation industry's northern winter period, this is when airlines around the world tend to publish their schedules and any adjustments to them, but this is never locked in, it's just for the sake of forward planning and booking, airport slots etc. Emirates can easily change things closer to the date to reflect where Australia is at with COVID.

no we know the borders will open around end of Oct to everywhere.

Scomo has been told.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1103

We do?  Where is this piece of wisdom from?

Int'l travel won't recommence quarantine-free until everyone who wants it has had their second shot.  Given the 12 week gap between the 2 shots and the target of 31/1 for first shots, this would seem to suggest the earliest the borders may be reopened without compulsory quarantine will be around the end of January.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 39

Ill be on the first flight Sydney to Christchurch. Great way to cross the ditch in business. Hopefully they can get it added as a green lane flight

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 15

Won't be green lane.

The EK crew wouldn't have been in AU or NZ for the preceding 14 days. They couldn't have any DXB-CHC pax. etc


03 Mar 2015

Total posts 19

Hope that means Qantas will be opening the First lounge.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 349

Small steps for returning to 2019 levels of travel. Bring it on.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 52

Fantastic News, Emirates in First and Business are my favourites. Although I won't be returning to Europe until May 22 unless things really change for the better! 

I wonder how many people are going to do an around the world flight just because they can when the borders open? So many points in people’s accounts and cash to burn. I know of one chap who flew Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and then Townsville on 20000 AA points and $150.00 just to enjoy a bit of flying in J.

23 Jul 2018

Total posts 9

Emirates and their “ pack em in “ cattle class style in business approach. Geez, they’d better get their best product here ASAP. I’d never fly them for fear of getting that centre coffin seat. Why would you for that. Judy look at Qatar and Ethiad. Much better options. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2547

A number of comments regarding politics have been removed as they were moving off-topic and also, as experience shows, can derail the over-all comments thread. Comment moderation has now been enabled on this article to keep things in order. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 82

This is why this wonderful Airline continues to get my business. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 452

$800 for a A380 business ticket SYD-CHC is incredible!

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 27

Hi Chris, I thought EK’s flights from AU to Singapore were from BNE rather than MEL or perhaps both? Any news on whether BNE would be reinstated alongside MEL pending borders and travel conditions? 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2577

Emirates previously flew to Singapore from both Melbourne and Brisbane, but in late 2019, announced plans to end Brisbane-Singapore flying from early 2020 as the route was a big loss-maker. 

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 27

Perhaps they could at least implement green lane on the departure flights from NZ to AU and/or AU to SG as a staring point.


03 May 2013

Total posts 660

The A380 means we're all truly flying again. Bring on the best pax experience out there.

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 13

After the PM's announcment on the resumption of international travel for November starting from Sydney (NSW), it looks more and more likely.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Emirates brings A380s back to Australia, New Zealand