Emirates notched up a momentous double-header today when it introduced its flagship A380 double-decker aircraft on two New Zealand routes on the same day.
The airline’s step-up in capacity on both its Christchurch service and its non-stop Dubai-Auckland flight means that Emirates now has an all-A380 offering across its five daily New Zealand services.
On the same morning, flight EK448 set off from Dubai on its 16-hour journey to Auckland, signalling the start of daily scheduled A380 services on the non-stop route previously operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, while an Emirates A380 took off en route to Christchurch as the airline upgraded the route to New Zealand’s main South Island gateway from a Boeing 777-300ER operation.
As well as the non-stop route, Emirates currently also operates three other daily A380 services between Dubai and Auckland via Australia (Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane).
Emirates will be the first airline to offer regular scheduled A380 services to and from Christchurch with the upgrade of the current daily Christchurch service, along with the removal of the en-route stop in Bangkok which will enable passengers to travel all the way between Dubai and Christchurch, with just one stop in Sydney.
The two new A380 services flew to New Zealand overnight, with the Christchurch flight arriving to an enthusiastic crowd who had waited for the aircraft in a viewing area especially set up for the day by Christchurch International Airport near the runway touchdown point, dubbed Planespotters Park.
The aircraft, commanded by Captain Shane Russell, formerly of Christchurch, taxied through a ceremonial water-cannon salute before parking directly in view of trade and media guests and VIPs at a special Emirates welcome function in the international terminal.
A traditional red London bus awaited the A380’s arrival, providing a contrast in size between the two double-deckers and signifying the fact that Emirates customers will now be able to fly all the way on A380s between London and Christchurch.
Outbound EK412 departs Dubai at 10:15 hours, seamlessly connecting with southbound services from European destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Manchester and many more of Emirates’ 38 Europe services. EK412 stops only in Sydney before arriving in Christchurch at 13:50 hours the next day (local time).
The return flight, EK413, departs Christchurch at 18:45 hours, touching down in Dubai at 05:15 hours the next day after its stop in Sydney, reducing the journey time to Dubai and Europe by about two hours in each direction.
At the same time, the Dubai service to Auckland via Sydney, features the opportunity for travellers to explore Southeast Asia or Australia en route as this service, EK418, now operates via the popular hub that is Bangkok, as well as Sydney. Flight EK418 departs Dubai at 08:55 hours and arrives in Auckland at 15:55 hours the following day (local time).
The return service, via Sydney and Bangkok, operating as flight EK419, departs Auckland at 16:30 hours and arrives in Dubai the following morning at 06:45 hours.
Known as the Garden City, Christchurch is the main gateway to the South Island and is set on the Canterbury Plains. The picturesque Avon River runs through the middle of the city of more than 380,000 residents. The banks of the river feature cycle paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Other tourist attractions include the International Antarctic Centre, the Christchurch Art Gallery and the start point for scenic journeys on the Trans Alpine passenger train.
Emirates is the only airline offering year-round scheduled A380 services to and from New Zealand.
All daily A380 flights provide connections in Dubai with direct Emirates flights to and from 38 destinations in Europe, as well as a number of cities in Africa and the Middle East. On many of Emirates’ routes, Auckland and Christchurch passengers will be able to fly all the way in both directions on an A380, including on services connecting New Zealand with London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Munich, Barcelona and Zurich.
The introduction of the new service will also mean Sydney-based travellers will have a wider choice of routings and timings on A380 flights, with the Christchurch A380 in addition to two current daily Emirates A380 services plus partner Qantas' A380 service to Dubai.
All New Zealand services will continue to offer three classes of travel – First, Business and Economy, with generous free baggage allowance (up to 35kg in Economy, 40kg in Business and 50kg in First Class).
On Emirates’ A380s, First Class passengers can look forward to quiet luxury in the comfort of their private suites and enjoy the industry’s only Onboard Shower Spa. First Class and Business Class passengers can socialise and sample canapés and cocktails at the popular Onboard Lounge and passengers in all classes can enjoy the gourmet cuisine, Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment, ice, with more than 2,500 channels and free Wi-Fi, which is available on all of Emirates’ A380s.
Tickets can be booked online through www.emirates.com or authorised travel agents.