- Emirates to replace Boeing 777 with Airbus superjumbo
- Switch will make 224 further seats available per trip
The world’s longest scheduled air service, spanning the 8,824 miles between Dubai and Auckland, is to be operated by the world’s biggest passenger jet as Gulf carrier Emirates almost doubles capacity on the route.
Upgrading the daily operation to Airbus Group SE A380s from Boeing Co. 777-200LRs from from Oct. 30 will lift the seat count to 490 per flight from 266. The move reflects the high level of demand since the service was introduced in March, Emirates said Thursday in a statement.
The largest long-haul airline prefers to open new routes with modestly sized wide-bodies before considering the A380 double-decker. Auckland is beyond the range of the 350-seat 777-300ER, the mainstay of the fleet, but reachable with the smaller -200LR, as well as the four-engine A380.
The outbound Auckland flight takes 17 hours and 15 minutes and the return just under 16 hours. Emirates has now taken delivery of 80 A380s, and last month ordered two more, lifting its backlog for the model to 64.
Mideast rival Qatar Airways will snatch the distance record by 200 miles in February when it too adds flights to Auckland. The service was put back from December following Airbus A350 delivery delays that mean 777s earmarked for the service won’t be free as envisaged.
The leading Gulf carriers are adding performance-stretching destinations after largely exhausting the potential for new links between the biggest cities. Their hubs at a natural crossroads between Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas also attract enough transfer passengers to make marginal services viable.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. is likely to regain the longest-flight title with the reintroduction of direct services to the New York area once Airbus makes a lighter version of the A350-900 available in 2018. The Asian carrier once flew the 19-hour, 9,500-mile route using a four-engine Airbus A340-500 with 100 business seats before scrapping the service in 2013 after it proved unviable.