Superjumbo stalwart Emirates says it will rebuild its flights to Australia following the country's restart of international travel, with the Airbus A380s – and their private first class suites, inflight showers and signature cocktail bar – also making a return.
The Gulf carrier's forward schedule for 2022 already show the superjumbo pencilled in for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, with a Boeing 777 slated for Brisbane.
Also bouncing back is the Sydney-Christchurch leg of EK412/EK413 – news that will cheer the savvy frequent flyers who enjoy making that three-hour trip across the pond as an indulgent jolly in Emirates' A380 business class or even first class.
"As borders re-open, we look forward to restoring our Australian flight schedules including our popular A380 services, and to welcoming customers to experience our best-in-class partnership for many more years to come," Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said today, after signing an agreement with Qantas to extend the airlines' partnership for a further five years, to 2028.
As Emirates' flagship, the Airbus A380 is well suited to the marathon between Australia and its Dubai hub – flights which can take 11-14 hours, and that's before any connection to Emirates' services to the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Although the airline's two-class 615-seat superjumbo is earmarked for routes where there's markedly less demand for a premium experience, Australia will continue to see its 'classic' three-class A380s with 14 first class suites (and two private showers) and 76 flat-bed business class seats.
There's no indication if Sydney, Melbourne or Perth might be upgraded to the newer four-class A380s which sport Emirates' all-new premium economy 'sleeperette' seats.
Every Emirates A380 also features that iconic cocktail bar towards the rear of the upper deck, either in its original 2008 form...
... or the classier 2017 edition, which the airline says was "inspired by private yacht cabins."
That includes a cleaner, sleeker design, with a lighter colour palette of ivory and (appropriately) champagne accented by bronze and woodgrain.
The seating has also been revamped to include cafe-style tables with a window view, while other areas have been opened up to make mingling easier.
Interestingly, airline chief Clark wasn't sure the bar would be a success when the A380 was first introduced into the Emirates fleet – so he hedged his bets by planning ahead for the bar's removal, in case the space didn’t prove popular enough with passengers.
"I designed the bar at the back of the aircraft on the upper deck, on the understanding that if it didn't work, we could remove it in 96 hours and put eight more business class seats in," Clark told Executive Traveller in 2019.
This is why Emirates’ oldest A380s have those telltale overhead lockers in the bar area – they remained fitted to make that transition quick and easy if the bar were to be ripped out.
Of course, once Emirates saw of the bar’s success, future A380s were delivered without those lockers, creating a more open environment and with more room for standing passengers.
Emirates this year marked 25 years of flying to Australia: a journey which began in 1996 with three flights a week between Dubai and Melbourne, and peaked at over 100 weekly flights to Australia before the Covid-19 pandemic.