The Superjumbo landed at Islamabad International Airport amid much fanfare, as another A380 became the world’s first used A380.
Ever since the new Islamabad International Airport was opened, speculation was rife: Emirates was rumored to be bringing its flagship, the A380, to Pakistani skies. But the lack of official clarification made things unclear and some said that the lack of a suitable alternate airport may be a factor.
Finally, the announcement came: The Emirates A380 would land at Islamabad International Airport on July 8, 2018. This special one-off flight would be followed some days later, if all goes to plan, with a regular daily A380 service to Islamabad, on the EK614/615 flights.
On the day, the special flight was welcomed with a customary water cannon salute at the airport, as the pilots — UAE national Capt Abbas Shaban and Pakistan-origin First Officer Qadir Moin — waved the flags of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates as they taxied to the gate.
After a welcoming ceremony, government officials, VIPs, media and officials from the travel industry were given a guided tour of the A380 by Emirates cabin crew.
“The landing demonstrated the airport’s readiness to accommodate the A380, the world’s largest commercial passenger jet,” Emirates said in a press release. It was also a reflection of the load capacity of the route – the flight was 95% full on both legs, according to our sources. A VIP delegation travelled to the capital on the special flight — which returned to Dubai in the afternoon — led by Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Centre Sheikh Majid Al Mualla and Adil Al Ghaith, the airlines’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, GMEI (Gulf, Middle East and Iran). They were joined by Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, the UAE Ambassador to Pakistan and Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE.
The airlines had invited two Pakistani members of its first-ever team as special guests on the flight: Captain Fazle Ghani, Emirates’ first chief pilot and team lead for inaugural operations and Captain Ejazul Haq, one of the pilots who operated the first-ever Emirates flights from Dubai 33 years ago.
Emirates currently owns over 100 A380s and operates them on key routes around the world, including Mumbai. Elsewhere in the world, another A380 created another kind of first. An A380, retired by Singapore Airlines, was acquired by HiFly, making it the world’s first operator of a used A380 aircraft. The aircraft, which remains in the configuration used by Singapore Airlines, although it will be repainted in the HiFly livery. That means that the product that passengers will enjoy, specially in the premium classes, will be the same class-leading product used by Singapore Airlines. The aircraft has been registered 9H-MIP (formerly 9V-SKC).
Photos: Baqir Kazmi, Plane Spotters Pakistan