The world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380will return to Christchurch in March as Emirates is relaunching the Dubai to Christchurch route via Sydney.
Emirates said the A380 aircraft, a double-decker that can carry between 484 and 615 passengers, would fly the route from March 26. The flights would happen daily.
Christchurch will be the smallest city in the world to host an Emirates A380.
Emirates New Zealand regional manager Chris Lethbridge said the restoration of the Christchurch service came ahead of the airline’s 20th anniversary of flying to New Zealand.
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“We’re very proud to be connecting travelers, tourists, and businesses from around the world to the South Island’s gateway,” he said.
Christchurch Airport chief executive Justin Watson said having the A380 at the airport was a visual reminder to South Islanders “that they, and our great export products, can connect with many international hubs through this airport”.
“During the A380’s recent absence, we have had regular [inquiries] about when people can book to fly on it again, so I won’t be surprised to have people here to welcome it back on March 26,” Watson said.
The A380 first flew to Christchurch in October 2016 and more than 1000 plane watchers camped near the runway to welcome it.
“It was thrilling and from that day on, people regularly came here to see it and photograph it,” Watson said.
Emirates flew its A380 to Auckland and Christchurch before the Covid pandemic shut borders in March 2020.
In May last year, Emirates announced plans for the A380 to return to Christchurch just before Christmasbut those plans were put on hold months later because of “ongoing operational constraints and resourcing pressures”.
Last month, Emirates restarted its non-stop Auckland to Dubai route. At 14,193 km, it is the longest A380 flight offered by the airline.
Emirates has 118 Airbus A380 aircraft in its fleet. Each one can carry between 484 and 615 passengers, according to the Emirates website.
In a statement, Emirates said the A380 had 14 first class suites and 76 “lie-flat” seats in business class.
The A380 flying to Christchurch from March would also include a newly introduced “premium economy” cabin, Emirates said.