DUBAI, 27th March, 2023 (WAM) -- Emirates' A380 made a landmark touchdown at Christchurch Airport today, marking the resumption of its daily service from Dubai to Christchurch via Sydney after more than three years.
The special service was greeted by a crowd of spectators at the Christchurch Airport boundary, who watched as the iconic aircraft taxied through a ceremonial water canon salute, before parking in view of trade, media, and VIP guests at the international terminal.
Outbound EK412 left Dubai at 10:15 local time, stopping briefly in Sydney before arriving in Christchurch at 13:55 hours the next day, New Zealand time.
On board the first flight back to Christchurch, Barry Brown, Divisional Vice President Australasia, Emirates, said: "Seeing the water cannon salute after we touched down in the first Emirates A380 flight in more than three years is a reminder of how special the aircraft is to Christchurch, since its first arrival in 2016. The significance of the occasion was also clear on the faces of the other passengers on board, who understood what this service means for Christchurch and connecting it to the world."
"Not only has Christchurch again become the smallest city on Emirates' A380 network, but New Zealand is now the first country on our network to exclusively carry our four cabin A380 and our best product yet. The phenomenal customer response from the moment tickets went on sale, both in and out of Christchurch, speak to a city in high demand."
Phil Mauger Christchurch Mayor said: "The return of the Emirates A380 service is a great boost for Christchurch and the wider South Island. It shows we're open for business and welcoming travellers after several years of Covid restrictions. I wish the passengers and crew a warm welcome, and I hope the resumed service is a real success for Emirates."
Justin Watson Chief Executive of Christchurch Airport said: "The return of the Emirates A380 aircraft is a significant moment for Christchurch and the South Island. Resuming the daily service offers South Islanders access from Christchurch Airport to dozens of the world's most famous cities in the famous Emirates style. After the A380's inaugural arrival in October 2016, people came to the airport every day to admire and photograph the aircraft. The global pandemic paused the service, but today, we welcome the aircraft back, knowing many excited Cantabrians are here to remind the crew and passengers how warm the South Island welcome is."
The resumption of the Dubai to Christchurch route headlines a planned ramping up of seating capacity across Emirates' global network, after boosting operations 31% (total ASKMs) since the beginning of its financial year. This operational boost included the re-introduction of Emirates' nonstop A380 route from Auckland to Dubai in December of last year.
Emirates' A380 return to Christchurch is also welcome news for South Island producers, with SkyCargo again supporting the export of 15 to 18 tonnes of daily goods across the Tasman. The airfreight will provided much needed airfreight from a broad range of exporters, including Central Otago cherries, prime New Zealand lamb, and premium seafood, as they continue on to destinations around the world.
Both North and South Island customers will now have direct access to daily Emirates A380 services, providing greater levels of flexibility and choice when making travel plans and providing seamless connectivity and reduced transit time when travelling to other destinations across the airline's global network, including destinations in Europe and the Middle East. Travellers looking to venture beyond the airline's gateways will also have more connection opportunities to 55 cities across Australia and New Zealand through Emirates' long-standing partnership with Qantas.
The A380 flight operates as EK 412 and EK 413. Emirates flight EK 412 departs Dubai at 1015hrs, arriving in Sydney at 0700hrs. The flight will then continue, taking off from Sydney at 0845hrs, arriving in Christchurch at 1355hrs. EK 413 will then depart Christchurch at 1820hrs, arriving in Sydney at 1940hrs. The final leg of EK 413 will depart to Dubai at 2145hrs, arriving at 0515hrs local time.
Customers in Christchurch will not only be able to enjoy the airline's flagship aircraft, but will also experience the debut of the highly sought-after Premium Economy cabin and latest products across every class of travel.
Emirates has been flying to New Zealand for 20 years, a sign of its ongoing commitment to the market. Throughout the pandemic, Emirates continued to serve the country, both through connecting New Zealand and the world with daily flights, as well as its SkyCargo services bringing essential goods in and out of the nation.
The Emirates A380 experience remains highly sought after by travellers. Customers travelling to and from Christchurch can look forward to enjoying its spacious and comfortable cabins, signature products that offer travellers the best experiences in the sky like the Onboard Lounge, First Class suites, Shower Spa and an award-winning inflight entertainment system that includes more than 5,000 channels of on-demand entertainment. Currently, Emirates' A380 is deployed to almost 40 global destinations with more routes to be announced in the near future.