Maiden Flight of Emirates A380 Aircraft Greeted with Warm Reception at Airport

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HOUSTON: Emirate Airlines landed its first A380 aircraft at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday, December 4, and introduced its flagship Airbus A380 service to the Houston-Dubai route. Houston is Emirates’ fifth U.S. gateway serviced by an A380.

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From left: Emirates VP of Sales USA, Matthias Schmid, Emirates Regional Sales Director Central USA, Alexander Houston, Director of Aviation, Houston Airport System, Mario Diaz, and Emirates VP USA, Jim Baxter, are flanked by Emirates’ Cabin Crew as they mark the arrival of the Emirates A380 flight at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday, Dec. 3, in Houston.
Photo : Aaron M. Sprecher/AP Images for Emirates

About 200 travel agents, media, airport and City of Houston officials and other guests attended the reception through at the International Terminal as the double-decker aircraft landed and passengers from Dubai disembarked. The plane was given a salute from two water cannons on fire trucks as it taxied up to gate D9, which was just recently renovated at a cost of $10 million to accommodate the two passenger loading bridges and make adjustments to the apron for the plane’s weight.

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Ketki Shah and Hamid Lakhani from Travelguzs with the Emirates Airlines Sales and marketing team.

Emirates launched its Houston-Dubai service in 2007 and the route has generated strong and sustained passenger demand since its inception. The airline has transported over 1.2 million passengers between the two cities to date. The A380 up-gauge provides 137 more seats on every flight – a 38 percent increase in overall capacity and one which has been driven by consumer demand. In addition to increasing connectivity with Dubai, the up-gauge will enable more Houston-based travellers to access Emirates’ global network including destinations in India, 20 points in Africa and 16 in the Far East.

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Homi Davier with Mark Culmer (left) and Matthias Schmid (right) of Emirates Airlines Sales and marketing team.

“Commencing A380 service to Houston will enable Emirates to grow alongside the city, which is experiencing strong economic development and the highest employment growth rate in the country,” said Hubert Frach, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations West – Americas, Africa, Europe and Russian Federation.

“The City of Houston welcomes this upgrade in service from our partners at Emirates,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker who unfortunately could not be present. “The arrival of this aircraft is a testament to the strength of Emirates’ route between Houston and Dubai,” said Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz as he addressed the guests. “It takes an economy as strong as Houston to get this service to arrive.” The impact of this service is estimated by the University of Houston to be $278 million and 1,500 jobs. Diaz thanked the team that was involved in creating the remodelled gates and also revealed that the work for the replacement of the International Terminal will start up early next year.

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Alexander Houston, Emirates Regional Sales Director put the new service in the same historical context as when the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. “Houston, the A380 has landed,” he paraphrased. “Emirates is a global connector of people, places and economies,” he said and then introduced the flight crew from the A380, headed by Captain Abdullah, an Emirati. In attendance were also Jim Baxter, Emirates Vice President USA and Mark Culmer, Emirates, Sr. Sales Executive – Special Markets.

After the formal reception in which a cake was cut by the Diaz and Emirates officials, the guests were escorted into the plane to tour the Economy Class on the lower level and the Business-Class and First Class compartment on the upper berth and saw for themselves Spa and shower that First Class passengers will enjoy.

The Emirates A380 is a wide-bodied, double-decker aircraft seating 491 passengers, including 14 First Class Private Suites, 76 Business Class lie-flat beds and 401 spacious Economy Class seats. While aboard the 15-hour-40-minute flight from Houston to Dubai, Emirates passengers in all cabin classes will enjoy savor regionally inspired gourmet cuisine, stay connected via on-board Wi-Fi, and immerse themselves in the award-winning in-flight entertainment system that offers more than 1,800 channels of movies, TV programs, music and podcasts.