Emirates A380 lands in Pakistan for first time
Islamabad: Emirates’ special one-off A380 flight landed in Islamabad on Sunday with celebrities, officials, diplomats and journalists on board.
Arrival of the airline’s iconic double-decker special flight EK2524/EK2525 to Islamabad also made history in Pakistan’s aviation as it was the first A380 to have ever landed in Pakistan.
Two Emirates alumni pilots including Captain Ejazul Haq and Captain Fazle Ghani, who operated the first ever Emirates flight from Dubai to Karachi on October 25, 1985 were also among the guests on board. Captain Haq had operated the second Emirates flight from Dubai to Mumbai on the same day.
Though it was a one-off A380 flight between Dubai and Islamabad, the airline wants to make it a regular daily flight in future.
“This is our special flight but we want to operate regular daily flight on an A380 from Dubai to the new Islamabad airport which is fully equipped to receive the big aircraft,” said Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations Centre, Emirates. The new Islamabad International airport opened in May.
Speaking to Gulf News on board the A380, Al Mualla said that negotiations with the authorities concerned in Pakistan have already started in this regard. We are very hopeful that passengers on this route would soon enjoy regular A380 flights.
“We came here to showcase our innovative products and will continue to work with authorities to realise our plans to increase capacity to all routes to Pakistan,” he added.
The special A380 flight departed Dubai at 8.15am and arrived at the new Islamabad airport at 12.20pm. The flight departed Islamabad at 15:40 hours arriving in Dubai at 17:45 hours on the same day.
Hamad Al Za’abi, the UAE’s Ambassador to Pakistan who was also on board, told Gulf News: “It is a historic day for UAE and Pakistan. We operated the first flight to Pakistan and now brought the first A380 — the world’s largest aircraft — to Pakistan. It reflects that we are building on our relations. We want to make it a daily flight and we are working on it.”
Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UAE, who was among the special guests on-board, said: “It is a new chapter in the Pakistan-UAE relations. Landing of the superjumbo in Pakistan would send a positive message to the business community and investors around the world that Pakistan is a growing market.”
He said that the government of Pakistan is in discussions with the UAE authorities to finalise agreement to allow Emirates to operate the A380 to Pakistan. “It is a win-win situation for both the countries. Emirates is very important to us as thousands of Pakistanis not only from UAE but from around the world use it to travel to and from Pakistan.”
Speaking at the reception at Islamabad airport, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister General (retired) Naeem Khalid Lodhi said that it was a great day for Pakistan’s aviation history. “Now we have the airport which can receive all kinds of aircraft and we will ask other countries as well to start flights to Islamabad.”
With regards to allowing Emirates’ A380 flights to Pakistan, he said they were working on the plans keeping in mind interests of their national airlines. “We hope to reach the agreement soon,” he said.
Captain Fazle Ghani, 86, who operated the Emirates’ first flight from Dubai to Karachi, and Captain Ejazul Haq who operated the Emirates first flight from Dubai to Mumbai, were honoured at the reception.
“I am greatly honoured by Emriates for remembering me,” said Captian Ghani, adding he was proud to have the honour of operating Emirates’ first flight.
Captain Ejazul Haq, who now lives in Islamabad. said that he served Emirates airline from 1987 to 2011. “Emirates is always ahead of other airlines in future planning and adopting technology and equipment. I feel very proud to have worked for such a great airline,” he said.
The Emirates A380 aircraft on this special one-off service is in a two-class configuration offering spacious seats in Economy Class and fully flatbed seats in Business Class as well as Emirates’ popular Onboard Lounge.
Passengers in all classes enjoy free Wi-Fi to stay in touch with family and friends besides Emirates “ICE” in-flight entertainment with up to 3,500 channels of movies, TV programmes, music and podcasts.
Emirates and Pakistan have a shared history dating back over 30 years when the airline’s flight landed in Karachi on October 25, 1985. In the last three decades, Emirates has expanded its operations offering global connectivity to Pakistan’s major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sialkot and Multan.