Tag Archives: Emirates Airline

Airbus and Emirates reach agreement on A380, sign new wide body orders – A380 production to end in 2021

Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EOG (msn 172) (Year of Zayed 2018) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945699.

Airbus has made this announcement:

Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft. Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380  in 2021.

Emirates has also decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible wide body aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 (above) and 30 A350-900 aircraft (below).

“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results”.

Airbus will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.

In addition, Emirates made this announcement:

Emirates airline today announced an order for 40 A330-900 aircraft, and 30 A350-900 aircraft, in a heads of agreement signed with Airbus. The deal is worth US$21.4 billion at list prices.

The latest generation Airbus A330neo and A350 aircraft, will be delivered to Emirates starting from 2021 and 2024 respectively.

In addition, Airbus and Emirates reached an agreement on outstanding A380 deliveries. The airline will receive 14 more A380s from 2019 until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 order book to 123 units.

Commenting on the agreement on A380 deliveries, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “After many months of discussions, we have come to an agreement with Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

“Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception. While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the program could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation. For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to the A380 like our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge. The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s, and as we have always done, Emirates will continue to invest in our onboard product and services so our customers can be assured that the Emirates A380 experience will always be top-notch.

On the decision to purchase A330neos and A350s, HH Sheikh Ahmed said: “Emirates’ fleet strategy to operate a young, modern, and efficient all-wide body fleet remains unchanged.  The 40 A330neos and 30 A350s that we are ordering today will complement Emirates’ fleet mix, support our network growth, and give us more flexibility to better serve seasonal or opportunistic demand. Both the A330neos and A350s will play an important role in our future fleet and network plans.”

The A330neos will be deployed on Emirates’ regional destinations, and also enable the airline to serve smaller airports and thereby open new routes and connectivity for its global network. The A350s will supplement Emirates’ long-haul operations, providing the carrier with added flexibility in terms of capacity deployment on 8 to 12 hour missions from its Dubai hub.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Airbus): Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EOG (msn 172) (Year of Zayed 2018) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945699.

Emirates aircraft slide show:

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Emirates to operate scheduled Airbus A380 service to Amman

Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EOJ (msn 182) (Expo 2020 Dubai UAE) FRA (Marcelo F. De Biasi). Image: 945323.

Emirates will operate its Airbus A380 aircraft to and from Amman between June 1 and October 26, 2019, in response to increased demand for travel during the summer period. This adjustment will see the airline operate one of its three daily flights on the route (EK 903/904) with its flagship A380. This will be the first time that Emirates will operate a scheduled A380 service to Amman, following the historic one-off A380 flight operated in September 2016.

From  June 1 to October 26, 2019, A380 flight EK 903 will depart Dubai at 1400 hrs and arrive in Amman at 1555 hrs, while the return A380 flight, EK 904 will leave Amman at 1800 hrs, arriving in Dubai at 2200 hrs.

The Emirates A380 flying to Amman will be set in a three-class configuration, with 427 generously pitched seats in Economy Class on the lower deck, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 14 First Class Private Suites on the upper deck.  Once the A380 reaches cruising altitude, passengers in the First Class cabin can enjoy the on-board Shower Spas and First and Business class customers can socialise in the On Board Lounge where they can mingle, network and enjoy complimentary beverages, canapés and other special delicacies at 40,000 feet.

Emirates has been flying to Jordan for 33 years, and has carried over 5.5 million passengers to and from Amman. Emirates has developed its operations in Jordan, providing more connectivity for its customers and boosting its services to the country, and today operates three daily flights between Amman and Dubai utilizing the Boeing 777.

During the financial year 2019/20, Emirates will take delivery of six new Airbus A380 aircraft. Emirates currently has 109 A380s in service and 53 pending delivery, more than any other airline globally. More than 116 million passengers have travelled on the Emirates A380 since it was first launched in 2008.

In order to meet increased seasonal passenger demand Emirates will be also be introducing its Airbus A380 aircraft to Boston in the United States and Glasgow in the UK.

In other news, Emirates has released this statement about its relationship with flydubai:

The strategic partnership between Dubai’s two airlines, Emirates and flydubai, continues to open up the world for travellers since its launch 14 months ago, and is set to grow even further in 2019 with new codeshare destinations to be added.

The partnership, which came into effect at the end of October 2017, has since delivered a number of benefits to both airlines’ customers, such as offering greater global connectivity through more destination choices, flexibility with flight options when planning trips, one integrated loyalty programme, and the convenience of travelling on a single ticket with seamless point to point baggage handling.

Between January and December 2018, the two airlines have jointly carried 3.29 million customers on codeshare flights across 84 destinations, which include popular tourism and adventure destinations such as Bucharest, Kathmandu and Zanzibar, amongst many others. Through the codeshare partnership, Emirates customers can access 67 additional destinations through flydubai’s network, while flydubai customers have 115 additional destinations they can travel to on Emirates network.

Expanding global connectivity

The partnership started with codeshare flights to just 29 cities, and has since expanded to 84, including new flydubai destinations such as Catania, Krakow, Dubrovnik and Helsinki.

During 2019 the network of codeshare flights will be further expanded, with the launch of new flydubai destinations Naples and Budapest, as well as several others that will be announced in due course. flydubai flights to Chittagong will also restart from January 20, 2019, while flights to Kozhikode, Kerala, will start from February 1, 2019.

Delivering better connections

Since December 2 last year, 11 flydubai flights started to operate from Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport to help improve the connections between Emirates and flydubai. These are Belgrade, Bishkek, Bucharest, Catania, Helsinki, Krakow, Mineralnye Vody, Prague, Rostov-on-Don, Salalah and Zagreb. During this year, more flights, including Naples and Budapest, will be departing from Terminal 3, further improving the connection experience for customers.

This move has enabled customers booked to travel to these destinations to check-in at the Emirates Business Class and Economy Class desks in the departures area of Terminal 3. Business Class passengers are also able to use fast track on the ground and enjoy other Business Class services, whilst transiting passengers have a smooth and quick transit time.

One loyalty program

To provide customers with an easy way to accrue and redeem air miles, flydubai adopted Emirates Skywards as its program in August last year. The alignment of the loyalty programme allows Emirates Skywards members to earn Skywards Miles and Tier Miles and enjoy shared travel benefits when flying across the combined networks.

Since August 2018, over 125,000 Skywards members have flown and earned almost 300 million Skywards Miles on flydubai. Skywards members have also been active in using their Miles to partially or fully pay for over 10,000 flydubai tickets.

Members earn the same currency with both airlines, so they can reach rewards faster and more easily rise through the tiers of the programme. Members enjoy even more privileges as they move through the membership tiers – they earn bonus Miles, can use Business Class check-in desks when flying Economy Class, and enjoy extra baggage plus priority baggage delivery.

Currently, the combined networks of Emirates and flydubai is 216, which by 2022, is expected to reach 240 destinations, offering customers across the world far reaching global connectivity via Dubai.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EOJ (msn 182) (Expo 2020 Dubai UAE) FRA (Marcelo F. De Biasi). Image: 945323.

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Emirates will reduce its schedule at Dubai for runway work, A380 coming to Boston and Glasgow, will begin retiring its older Boeing 777s

Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EDG (msn 023) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945264.

Emirates has announced adjustments to its operational schedules in 2019 to minimize the impact of the closure of Dubai International Airport’s Southern Runway in April and May 2019, and to respond to global travel demand trends. The airline also outlined its fleet plans for the year.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said: “At Emirates, we pride ourselves on being a customer-focused airline with a commercially-driven business model. We invest in a modern and efficient aircraft fleet so we can offer industry-leading comforts to our customers, and we are agile in deploying our aircraft to destinations where it best serves customer demand.

“The changes we are implementing to our network schedules in 2019 are in line with this approach, taking into consideration global market dynamics and operational limitations including the maintenance work on Dubai Airport’s Southern Runway. Through the year, we will continue to keep a close watch on global markets and will maintain our flexibility to optimise the usage of our aircraft assets.”

A significant number of scheduled Emirates flights will be impacted by the closure of Dubai International Airport’s Southern Runway for maintenance work between April 16 and May 30, 2019.

Given the limitations around operating flights using a single runway at its hub, many Emirates flights will be cancelled, re-timed or have the operating aircraft changed in order to reduce impact on customers. This will result in up to 48 Emirates aircraft not being utilised, with a 25% reduction in the overall number of flights operated by the airline during the 45-day period.

2019 network adjustments

Emirates will deploy additional flights to several markets in Africa starting in June 2019. The additional services will satisfy the increased demand that the airline has witnessed in these markets, and will offer customers even more seamless connections between these destinations and Emirates’ global network through Dubai. Cities in Africa that will be served by additional Emirates flights include:

  • Casablanca, Morocco: Emirates will operate a second daily flight starting  June 1, 2019 to Casablanca. The service will be operated by Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which will complement the airline’s existing daily Airbus A380 flight.
  • Abuja, Nigeria: Three additional flights will be operated every week on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to Abuja starting June 1, 2019 increasing the frequency to the Nigerian city to a daily service.
  • Accra, Ghana: Emirates will also augment its current flight frequency to the Ghanaian capital with four additional Boeing 777-300ER flights a week bringing Emirates’ total service to 11 weekly flights to Accra effective June 2, 2019.
  • Conakry, Guinea and Dakar, Senegal: The capitals of Guinea and Senegal will be serviced by one additional linked flight every week starting June 1, 2019 on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Multiple destinations across Europe will also be served by additional Emirates flights during peak travel season leading up to and lasting through the summer of 2019. These destinations include:

  • Athens, Greece: Emirates will deploy a second daily flight to Athens between March 31 and October 26, 2019. The service will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between March 31 and April 15, 2019 and between October 1 and October 26, 2019. During the busy summer months from May 31 to September 31, Emirates will deploy its Airbus A380 aircraft to meet additional demand. Emirates will not operate the second daily flight during the period of closure of Dubai Airport’s Southern Runway (April 16 – May 30, 2019).
  • Rome, Italy: The Italian capital will be served by three daily Emirates flights between March 31 and October 26, 2019. The third additional flight, operated with a Boeing 777-300ER, will be suspended during the Dubai Airport Southern Runway closure.
  • Stockholm, Sweden: Emirates will provide additional capacity to Sweden during July and August 2019 with a double daily service on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. This will allow additional passengers to travel to and from the Swedish capital during the peak summer season.
  • Zagreb, Croatia: As part of the strategic partnership between Emirates and flydubai, Emirates will once again begin operating its Boeing 777-300ER daily to Zagreb from March 31 until October 26, 2019. The daily service will be reduced to four times a week during the Dubai Airport Southern Runway closure.

In order to meet increased seasonal passenger demand Emirates will be introducing its Airbus A380 aircraft to destinations including:

  • Boston, USA: Emirates’ customers travelling to Boston will be able to experience the world’s largest commercial aircraft famed for its Onboard Lounge accessible to First and Business Class passengers as well as the Onboard Shower Spas for First Class customers. Emirates’ A380 will operate to Boston between June 1 and September 30, 2019 and between December 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020 to accommodate the increased seasonal demand in travel to the US East Coast.
  • Glasgow, UK: Emirates will fly its flagship A380 double-decker aircraft to Scotland for the first time between April 16 and May 31, 2019. The Emirates A380 daily service, with a total capacity of 489 seats, will replace the double daily Boeing 777-300ER service during the Dubai Airport Runway closure. From June 1, 2019 until September 30, 2019, Emirates will resume operating a double-daily service to Glasgow with one daily Boeing 777-300ER and one Airbus A380, offering additional capacity to meet increased travel demand during the summer season.

Emirates will also adjust its services into South America to optimise fleet utilization. From  June 1, 2019, the airline will deploy its newly refurbished two-class Boeing 777-200LR on its daily service from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro.  Offering wider Business Class seats laid out in 2-2-2 format and refreshed seats in Economy Class, this service will continue from Rio de Janeiro to the Argentinian capital city of Buenos Aires four times a week, and on the remaining three days it will operate onwards to Santiago, Chile.

With this change, Emirates will suspend its linked flight from Dubai to Santiago via Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo will continue to be served with a daily non-stop Airbus A380 service to and from Dubai.

With a view to providing more efficient and direct connection options for customers travelling to and from Australia, Emirates will suspend flights EK 418/419 between Bangkok and Sydney from  June 1, 2019. Emirates will continue to serve Sydney with three flights a day nonstop to Dubai, and Emirates’ customers wishing to travel between Bangkok and Sydney will have flight choices provided by Emirates’ partner Qantas.

Effective March 31, 2019, Emirates will suspend EK 424/425 and serve Perth with a once daily Airbus A380 service nonstop from Dubai. Emirates customers travelling from Perth will continue to enjoy rapid two-way connections through Dubai to over 38 destinations in Europe, and a further 16 cities in Europe via Emirates’ codeshare partner flydubai. Customers will also be able to enjoy a seamless Emirates A380 experience between Perth and close to 20 destinations in Europe.

Operating a modern aircraft fleet

Emirates is committed to operating one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the international aviation industry offering unparalleled customer experience and a superior level of safety combined with better fuel efficiency.

During the financial year 2019/20, Emirates will take delivery of six new Airbus A380 aircraft. At the same time, the airline will be renewing its fleet by retiring seven older Boeing 777 aircraft. Emirates took delivery of its last Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in November 2018 and will commence taking deliveries of the next generation Boeing 777Xs in 2020.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EDG (msn 023) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945264.

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Emirates develops innovative application to reduce aircraft turnaround delays at Dubai hub

Emirates passengers travelling from or transiting through Dubai International Airport (DXB) can expect fewer instances of delays associated with aircraft turnaround thanks to a new innovative application built in-house by Emirates called the Hub Monitor.

Hub Monitor is being used by Emirates’ operational staff in Dubai to share and monitor real time information on the various activities that are carried out to prepare an aircraft for departure. Through its monitoring and proactive alerting system, the application helps avoid delays and improve on-time performance ultimately leading to a better passenger experience.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer said: “The Hub Monitor application is a unique and innovative tool developed in line with our vision to continuously re-examine our processes and introduce smart and more efficient means to improve our operations resulting in better passenger experience. Our Operations team in coordination with IT have led the development of the hub monitoring system in a record time of five months, building on an existing solution that was already developed by Emirates Engineering. The team examining the various functions of Hub Monitor in real time are working to roll out further modules and the next module will be implemented later this month.”

Emirates Aircraft Turnaround in Dubai

Emirates is the world’s largest international airline operating a fleet of 270 modern all wide-body fleet of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.  Every day around 255 Emirates flights depart from Dubai to destinations across six continents. Flights range in duration from less than an hour to over 17 hours. In order to avoid flight delays and inconvenience to passengers, it is critically important to efficiently turnaround the aircraft arriving in Dubai and prepare them for their next departure without compromising on quality or safety.

It currently takes about 105 minutes to turnaround the Emirates A380, the world’s largest commercial passenger jet, and about 90 minutes to prepare the Boeing 777 aircraft for departure at Emirates’ hub in Dubai.

There are a number of activities involved in the aircraft turnaround process. Some of these include a complete cleaning of aircraft interiors, water and toilet servicing, flight catering and loading meals for passengers, servicing the aircraft Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), refuelling the aircraft, maintenance checks, and loading passenger luggage and cargo. A delay in any one of these activities can have a cumulative impact on operations.

Hub Monitor

With Hub Monitor, cross-functional teams from departments including Engineering, Network Control, Airport Services, Flight Operations, and dnata Operations keep track of the turnaround activities on a real time basis. The application also triggers alerts to operational staff when there is a delay or deviation to any above or below wing activity against a pre-set Precision Timing Schedule (PTS). These pre-emptive alerts allow Emirates’ teams to identify and resolve the root cause of any potential delays. In fact, Hub Monitor has already demonstrated its potential, versatility and scalability and has been chosen as the platform for some of Emirates’ key internal initiatives on disruption and fulfilment.

Hub Monitor integrates data coming in from a number of internal platforms and real-time aircraft downlinks. It then provides the consolidated data through a single view interface to relevant internal stakeholders. Hub Monitor is also mobile enabled, meaning staff deployed on the aircraft, ramp and in other remote areas can also easily access the information.

The application provides information on all Emirates’ aircraft in Dubai, allowing teams the ability to proactively recalibrate and plan their activities to minimise the impact of any unavoidable or unforeseen delays. Initial results since the application was deployed in August indicate that Hub Monitor has the potential to bring about a significant delay reduction at Emirates’ Dubai hub every year.

Emirates takes delivery of its last Boeing 777-300ER aircraft

Emirates celebrated an important fleet milestone with the delivery of the final Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (A6-EQP) on its order books.
A6-EQP is the 190th Boeing 777 aircraft to be delivered to Emirates, the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777 aircraft and also the only airline in the world to have operated all the six variants of the Boeing 777 family.
One of out every eight 777 aircraft ever manufactured by Boeing has been delivered to Emirates.
Emirates will also be one of the first airlines in the world to fly the two next generation models- the Boeing 777-8 and 777-9.

It was also the 146th delivery of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to Emirates. The airline welcomed the first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft into its fleet in March 2005 and over the last 13 years, the 777-300ER has become the backbone of Emirates’ fleet operating currently to over 119 destinations across the airline’s global network. Emirates has operated one out of every five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft produced to date and the average age of a Boeing 777-3000ER in Emirates’ fleet is a mere 6.5 years.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline said: “The Boeing 777-300ER has been a cornerstone of Emirates’ success story as the world’s largest international airline. The aircraft’s efficiency, range and payload capabilities have enabled us to connect our customers across six continents to and through Dubai, and offer them a flight experience that is second to none. With 140 of these aircraft in our fleet, the Boeing 777-300ER will continue to play an integral role in our operations and facilitating global tourism and trade opportunities in the years to come.”

On the partnership with Boeing, Sir Tim said: “We’ve worked closely with Boeing on the 777 program over the last three decades, and we will build on this partnership as we start taking delivery of the 777-8 and 777-9 aircraft from 2020.”

Emirates’ Boeing 777 fleet has carried close to 350 million passengers on more than 1.28 million flights and covered over 6.6 billion kilometres since 1996. That’s the equivalent of flying almost 8600 times to the moon and back.

Setting the standards for passenger experience and safety, Emirates has continually invested in its onboard product and services. The airline recently unveiled brand new cabins for its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft including the game-changing fully-enclosed First Class private suites as well as newly-designed seats and improved inflight entertainment systems for Business and Economy class cabins. Emirates has also started a programme to reconfigure its 10 Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, installing new wider Business Class seats as well as a completely refreshed Economy Class for improved passenger comfort.

Since 2009, Emirates has also been operating the Boeing 777-F dedicated freighter aircraft to facilitate global trade. With a capacity of over 100 tonnes per flight, Emirates’ fleet of 13 Boeing 777-Fs move a variety of cargo, including heavy and outsized shipments, pharmaceuticals, flowers and race horses on scheduled weekly flights to over 40 global destinations. In 2017, Emirates’ Boeing 777-F aircraft also executed more than 370 charter flights over and above regular operations.

Emirates operates one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world with an average aircraft age of 5.87 years, a figure that is much lower than the accepted norm in the aviation industry. The airline pursues an ambitious fleet renewal strategy by retiring older aircraft and introducing newer and more advanced aircraft leading to more efficient operations.

From 2020, the airline will start taking delivery of 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s. These next generation aircraft will have a more fuel efficient design and will feature larger windows, increased cabin pressure and humidity, higher ceilings, wider cabin and an advanced inflight entertainment system contributing to a superior customer experience.

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Milestones of the Emirates Boeing 777 program

June 1996 Emirates receives delivery of its first Boeing 777 aircraft A6-EMD, a Boeing 777-200 classic
June 2003 Emirates announces order for 26 Boeing 777-300ERs at the 2003 Paris Air Show, worth US$ 5.6 billion
March 2005 Emirates receives its first Boeing 777-300 ER
2009 Emirates becomes the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777 aircraft
November 2013 Emirates makes aviation history with a record-breaking order for 150 Boeing 777x aircraft
October 2014 Emirates receives its 100th Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
September 2015 Emirates receives its 150th Boeing 777 aircraft
November 2016 Emirates starts taking delivery of its new generation Boeing 777-300ER with enhanced Business Class seats and improved environmental performance
November 2017

 

Emirates unveils brand new cabins for its Boeing 777 fleet including the Game-changing, fully enclosed private suites in First Class

Emirates adds additional Airbus A380 service between Johannesburg and Dubai

Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EUB (msn 213) (Expo 2020 Dubai UAE) (Paris Saint-Germain) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 944670.

Emirates introduced an additional Airbus A380 service to Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), effective December 1, 2018, replacing the previous Boeing 777 aircraft on the route. EK762 (JNB-DXB) and EK761 (DXB-JNB) are now served by the flagship A380 aircraft.

This change in aircraft supports growing demand in South Africa, a 14% increase in seat capacity will be as a direct result of deployment of the second A380 to Johannesburg. The Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft serving the Dubai-Johannesburg route will offer a total of 519 seats in a three-class configuration, with 429 spacious seats in Economy Class, 76 fully flat-bed seats in Business Class and 14 First Class Private Suites.

Upcoming festive season travel between the two global transit hubs is expected to be especially strong, building on over 700,000 customers who flew with the airline before November. With Emirates, customers from Johannesburg can enjoy a seamless A380 experience to their most popular destinations via Dubai, including London, Moscow, New York and Bangkok. All four daily Emirates flights between Johannesburg and Dubai operate as codeshare flights with partner South African Airways.

Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s, with 107 of the aircraft currently in service and 55 pending delivery in this, the tenth year of Emirates’ A380 operations. The deployment of the double-decker aircraft on routes to and from South Africa gives even more regional travellers the chance to experience the aircraft’s industry-leading comforts. These include private suites and Shower Spas in its First Class cabin, while Business Class customers can enjoy the popular onboard lounge and lie-flat beds.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Emirates): Emirates Airline Airbus A380-861 A6-EUB (msn 213) (Expo 2020 Dubai UAE) (Paris Saint-Germain) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 944670.

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UAE carriers fly a formation in Dubai to celebrate the legacy of Sheikh Zayed

Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, Air Arabia and Al Fursan took to the skies in unison today to celebrate the UAE’s 47th National Day, as well as commemorate the legacy and values of HH Sheikh Zayed. The late founding father of the UAE dedicated his life and leadership to unify and shape a better collective future for the nation, and today’s formation flight is a soaring display of unity as all four carriers showcase the UAE’s aviation success story to the nation and world.

The spectacular flypast – a world-first and a UAE civil aviation milestone – involved over 11 aircraft: a flydubai Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Zayed 1), an Air Arabia Airbus A320 (Zayed 2), an Etihad Airways Airbus A380 (Zayed 3) and an Emirates Airline Airbus A380 (Zayed 4), as well as seven Al Fursan aerobatic display jets from the UAE Air Force. All of the commercial aircraft within the formation were emblazoned with ‘Year of Zayed’ decals. This is also the first time this unique combination of aircraft types fly in formation.

The aircraft were proudly commanded by Captain Adrian Smith from flydubai, Captain Nadhem Al Hamad from Air Arabia, Captain Richard Dyson from Etihad Airways and Captain Abbas Shaban from Emirates Airline. The Al Fursan team was led by Lieutenant Colonel Nasser Al Obaidli.

Formation and flight path

The carefully choreographed ‘stair step’ aerial formation began this afternoon at 1300 hrs, when the aircraft took-off from Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport. Once all of the aircraft established their holding positions with altitudes ranging from 2,000 feet to 5,000 feet with a 1,000 foot vertical separation, the formation commenced. Over the skies of Ras Al Khaimah, each aircraft adjusted its speed and turned to achieve a trail formation. The aircraft then descended into their positions and vertical separation was reduced to 300 feet.

 

Flying first in the ‘Year of Zayed’ formation was flydubai, cruising at an altitude of 1,000 feet and an airspeed of 210 knots, closely followed by Air Arabia, in line astern and stepped up at an altitude of 1,300 feet. Next came the Etihad Airbus A380 double-decker, trailing the first two aircraft  and flying at 1,600 feet, stepped up by the Emirates Airbus A380 flying at the highest altitude at 1,900 feet to make room for the seven Al Fursan jets set in an arrow formation ready to release their signature smoke trails in the colours of the UAE flag.

Together, the stunning UAE carrier formation flew with impressive precision across the coastline of the UAE, starting at Ras Al Khaimah, continuing on to Um Al Quwain and Ajman, and then passing landmarks including the Sharjah Corniche, Dubai’s Palm and World Islands with the Burj Khalifa skyline in the background, and finally crossing the Abu Dhabi Corniche and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, where all aircraft then split and continued on to their respective airports for landing.

Executive remarks

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, and Chairman of flydubai said: “His Highness Sheikh Zayed was a true pioneer and one of the most inspirational leaders of our time. It is fitting that on UAE National Day, such a spectacular aerial display be done to honour his legacy. This ground-breaking initiative showcases how unity and a shared vision can achieve outstanding results.  I am immensely proud of all of the teams across every airline, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, and all the organisations who came together to plan and execute today’s unprecedented flight formation which will go down as an extraordinary moment for UAE civil aviation.”

His Excellency Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Today our nation celebrates the 47th National Day, a day we celebrate the achievement of the vision of our founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed to unite the seven Emirates. In the Year of Zayed, we are very proud to witness this historic flight formation which resembles the vision set forth by our founding father. Our Emirati carriers flying across the seven Emirates in this formation represents the spirit of our union, and demonstrates the economic progress our nation and aviation sector achieved in less than half a century through connecting over a 100 million travellers annually to 500 destinations globally.”

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia said: “It gives us a great honour to be part of this remarkable formation display dedicated to the Year of Zayed and while celebrating the UAE’s National Day.  This unique flight formation display reflects the unity, leadership and the forward vision of the UAE. We thank all the airlines, Al Fursan and the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority for working together to achieve such a successful and first of its kind flight display that will now be added to the UAE’s pioneering journey in aviation.”

His Excellency Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA said: “In this historical formation flight, The GCAA ensured that communication and coordination was carried out between all pertinent authorities and stake holders to ensure that flight details were established and the route flown would avoid all departure and arrival lanes, thereby guaranteeing uninterrupted routine airport operations. This fly past was continuously controlled by Air Traffic Control, tracked by surveillance radar and communicated by two-way radio communication for any advisory and instruction. In addition, the GCAA has further imposed certain requirements for assessment and approval of the entire fly past exercise which includes routing, separation, weather minima, aircraft limitation and trials so that no stone is left unturned.”

Precision planning and co-ordination

While the flawlessly executed aerial formation flight may appear to be a straightforward assignment, the mission was under planning for more than five months due to the complexity of the formation and the number of aircraft involved. With a primary focus on flight safety, the meticulous technical planning and co-ordination involved all four airlines and multiple regulatory stakeholders.

The success of the formation flight was made possible by the collaboration between the pilots and flight operation managers from each airline, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), UAE Ministry of Defence, air traffic controllers, the Abu Dhabi Department of Transportation and Civil Aviation Authorities from other UAE emirates, amongst others.

All stakeholders worked together to identify suitable locations for the flight formation patterns, taking into account air traffic, areas overflown, route planning, visibility, and potential wind and weather conditions. The entire formation route was protected from any passing traffic within a Temporary Restricted Area controlled by the GCAA. Meetings were held to establish each airline’s position within the formation and precise visual reference points were drawn up so each aircraft could safely join and hold their plotted position. In addition, all pilots went through rigorous flight simulation exercises.

A rehearsal flight was done on November 8, 2018 to ensure that the formation positions worked appropriately with the Al Fursan air display team. The test-run ‘Year of Zayed’ formation also included two helicopters and an Aero L-39 Albatross chase plane from the Latvian based Baltic Bees aerobatic display team to film every detail and aspect of the formation.

The “Year of Zayed” is a tribute to HH Sheikh Zayed’s remarkable legacy which has left a lasting imprint on the UAE.  The inspirational leader created a vision of prosperity, determination and tolerance – attributes that remain strongly embedded in UAE culture and across all UAE aviation organisations.

All photos by the airlines.

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