Hundreds of spectators gathered at Perth Airport on 1 May 2015, to witness the sunset arrival of the first scheduled Emirates Airbus A380 service to Perth.
The first service was operated by a 9-month old Airbus A380-861, registered A6-EOE, the 169th A380 built.
Ten A380s have previously visited Perth, including the first promotional (non-revenue) visit by Qantas A380 VH-OQA on 14 October 2008. Other A380s of Emirates and Qantas visited because of medical emergency diversions and one technical emergency, whilst en route to or from Melbourne or Sydney.
Perth Airport’s runway 03/21 was already capable of taking aircraft such as the A380, and the cross runway 06/24 was strengthened and had the turning nodes widened in a $6 million project completed in October 2005. The dedicated A380 dual aerobridge at the international terminal was commissioned in December 2013.
The A380 will continue to operate the daily flight EK420/EK421 services, replacing Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
A6-EOE pushed back from Dubai’s Terminal 3 at 3:18am (7:18am Perth time) for the inaugural A380 service as flight EK420, taking off from Dubai at 3:33am local time (7:33am Perth Time).
During the flight, A6-EOE reached a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet (11.9 kilometres) and a maximum speed of 605 knots (1,120 kilometres per hour).
The A380 landed on Perth’s runway 21 at 5:29pm Perth Time, after a flight time of 9 hours 56 minutes.
Welcomed with a traditional water cannon salute by airport fire crews on Taxiway S, the A380 arrived at the dedicated A380 gate (Bay 51) at 5:39pm, just four minutes late, despite leaving Dubai 23 minutes late.
The return flight EK421 pushed back from Terminal 1 at 10:05pm and took off from runway 21 at 10:21pm. After a flight of 10 hours 36 minutes, it landed at Dubai at 4:57am local time (8:57am Perth time).
Hundreds of people congregated at the Perth Airport Viewing Area, located near the south end of the main runway (Runway 03). It was full at least an hour before the arrival of the A380, and the car park had to be closed.
Due to southerly winds at the time of the arrival, the aircraft landed on at the north end of the runway. As there are no spectator facilities there and Terminal 1 Observation Deck was closed to the public for the Emirates A380 Reception ceremonies, people viewed the arrival from Terminals 3 and 4, or from areas north of Perth Airport.
As usual for a runway 21 landing, the A380 exited the runway at Taxiway L2, over 800 metres away from the Viewing Area, leaving a number of spectators disappointed. The pilot later said that he used an automatic braking system, where the crew selects the taxiway they wish to use to exit the runway and the system automatically slows the aircraft.
On the flight deck were Perth-born pilot Captain Steve Darnell, along with Gavin Felsinger and Jasim Alzarooni.
Captain Darnell was born and raised in Perth. He has 36 years flying experience, the last 20 years of which have been with Emirates.
Earlier in his career, he flew in Western Australia. He flew Islander aircraft for Rottnest Airlines, flew with Ord Air Charter in the Kimberley region of WA, and with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He later joined Ansett WA, flying the British Aerospace 146 regional jet. In 1989, he left Australia and joined the Dutch Airline KLM, before being recruited by Emirates.
A number of Perth-born Emirates pilots wanted to operate the first A380 service to Perth, but Steve Darnell was the most senior of them.
Emirates has undergone phenomenal growth since it was founded in Dubai in 1985 with just US$10 million in start-up capital and two leased aircraft. Although backed by Dubai’s royal family, Emirates operates independent of government subsidies and pays fuel costs at international rates.
The airline has benefited from geography – Dubai’s location is ideal for an international hub, mid way between Europe, Asia, Australasia or Africa. Emirates now fly to over 140 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world. Over 1,500 Emirates flights depart Dubai each week, to destinations on six continents. In May 2015, Emirates Group reported that in the previous year, it had carried 49.3 million passengers and made profits of $1.5 billion, up 34%.
Emirates has 234 widebody aircraft in their fleet, including the largest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s in the world.
Emirates was the first airline to order the A380, and they now have 60 A380s in service, with another 81 on order. Since the type’s introduction with Emirates in 2008, their A380s have flown 37.8 million passengers. They have over 1,000 A380 pilots and 10,000 A380 cabin crew.
Emirates also operates 145 Boeing 777s, with a further 200 on order, including 150 of the new Boeing 777X.
The airline keeps its aircraft for an average of about 12 years, so it has a comparatively young fleet of modern, fuel efficient aircraft.
Emirates’ Dubai- Perth service began in August 2002, using Boeing 777-200ER aircraft operating the route four times per week, becoming daily in May 2003. It now operates three times per day. Types used on the route over the years have included the Airbus A340-300, A340-500, Boeing 777-200ER, 777-200LR, 777-300ER and now the A380.
The A380 is assembled in Toulouse, in the south of France, with parts made in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, using engines from the USA or UK.
Powered by Engine Alliance GP7270 engines, A6-EOE made its first flight on 31 July 2014 with test registration F-WWSZ, from the A380 final assembly plant at Toulouse, in the south of France.
Flown to Hamburg, Germany for cabin fit-out, it was delivered from Hamburg to Dubai on 22-23 December 2014, registered as A6-EOE.
Prior to flying the A380, Captain Darnell flew the Boeing 777 with Emirates.
Darnell said that “although Boeing and Airbus have different design and operating philosophies, it was a relatively simple transition.” On the Airbus versus Boeing rivalry, he joked that “I lost some friends who still fly Boeings, as I keep telling them how wonderful the A380 is!”
He said that the A380 handles easily – pilots can move the sidestick controller with just two fingers.
The A380 has the widest cabin of any airliner in the world, with a floor area 49 per cent larger than the Boeing 747-400 and with 35 per cent more seats. It is also economical with fuel economy per passenger better than most hybrid passenger cars.
To date, Emirates has flown 37.8 million passengers on its A380 fleet, on more than 94,000 return flights.
Emirates operates A380s which have different cabin configurations to cater for different markets. A6-EOE is equipped with 14 First Class Suites and 76 Business Class seats on the upper deck, and 401 Economy class seats on the main deck, for a total of 491 passengers.
It has a bar lounge for Business and First Class passengers and two Shower Spas for First Class. All Business and First Class seats have a personal min-bar, snacks and lie-flat beds. First and Business Class passengers on Emirates are also provided with a complimentary chauffeur driven limousine from the airport to the city, as well as use of the Emirates lounge at the airport.
In April 2015, Emirates announced that it will adopt a two-class configuration for its A380s, with first class suites and both shower spas to be removed to make way for 615 passengers – 58 business and 557 economy class seats. They will retain the bar for business class passengers.
Emirates’ A380 fleet has the same 10-abreast economy class configuration as their Boeing 777s, but the wider fuselage of the A380 provides a more spacious and comfortable cabin for passengers.
Passengers can choose from nearly 2000 channels on the Emirates’ ICE (information, communication, entertainment) system. Wi-Fi is also available, with 10MB of free wi-fi data, then $US1 ($1.30) is charged per 500MB.
The A380 cabin is also much quieter than similar aircraft, with half the cabin noise of a Boeing 747-400.
Checking the airfares for a one-way flight from Perth to Dubai shows the following fares:
A380 Reception Ceremony
A ceremony to mark the first service was held in the Observation Deck in Perth Airport’s Terminal 1, attended by Emirates’ management, members of the media, travel industry representatives and WA politicians.
Rob Gurney, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President Commercial Operations, Australasia noted that it has been 13 years since the first Emirates service from Dubai to Perth.
Perth is the fourth Australian A380 port for Emirates, with five daily A380 flights from Australia, connecting with up to 33 other destinations flown by Emirates’ A380 aircraft. Emirates fly to more than 80 countries.
Mr Gurney noted that despite the recent downturn in the WA economy and the decreased value of the Australian Dollar, West Australians continue to travel. He said that the A380 service to Perth is part of a long-term commitment to serve Western Australia.
Emirates noticed that forward bookings on the Perth-Dubai route increased as soon as they advertised the A380 – this had happened at other airports around the world whenever the A380 was introduced, so the type is popular with passengers. The WA Government and Perth Airport encouraged Emirates to start A380 services.
Perth Airport CEO Brad Geatches said that the A380-capable gate with two air bridges (one to the upper deck and one to the lower deck) was commissioned [in December 2013] as part of Perth Airport’s $1.1 billion redevelopment program. 2015 is an important year for Perth Airport, as the redevelopment program nears completion, and a new, bigger Emirates lounge is due to open in August.
WA Tourism Minister Kim Hames saw the large crowd of people waiting at Viewing Area for an hour prior to the arrival, and said that this perhaps reflects the type’s attractiveness to the public. Mr Hames noted that Emirates now caters for 32% of passengers arriving in Western Australia from the UK and 20% from Germany.
Mr Hames said that watching the A380 arrive at the gate was very moving, being the culmination of a great deal of work by Emirates, Perth Airport and the Government, and he is proud to have the aircraft serving WA.
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