Emirates took delivery of its first Airbus A380 ‘superjumbo’ at the planemaker’s new Jürgen Thomas A380 Delivery Centre.
The aircraft was received by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, at an official handover ceremony attended by President of Emirates Airline Tim Clark; Airbus CEO Tom Enders; former Engine Alliance President, Bruce Hughes; Jürgen Thomas, the 'founding father' of the A380; the 2,000 Hamburg Airbus staff directly involved in the production of the A380; 58 Emirates cabin crew, representing the number of A380s the Dubai based carrier has on firm order; international media, VIPs and other guests.
Sheikh Ahmed noted that while Emirates may not have been the first airline to receive the new generation aircraft, it was the first to place a firm order for it eight years ago.
In July 2000 Emirates became the first airline to sign a firm commitment and place a deposit for the world's biggest commercial aircraft, initially for seven aircraft, with five further options, collectively worth $1.5bn.
By November 2007, the award-winning carrier had placed firm orders for 58 A380s.
"We have stood firm on our commitment to the A380. Our investment in the aircraft, including engines and inflight features, exceeds €32 billion, with €12bn spent in Germany alone. We congratulate Airbus for having created the 'greener, cleaner, quieter, smarter' aircraft," said Sheikh Ahmed.
As he presented the A380 to Sheikh Ahmed, Mr Enders acknowledged Emirates' key role in the development and delivery of the iconic aircraft. "We appreciate the confidence that Emirates has shown in Airbus," he said.
The Emirates A380s will be powered by Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, enabling the carrier to save 500,000 litres of fuel per aircraft per year over any other engine alternative currently available.
Mr Hughes, highlighting the environmental benefits the engines offered, said: 'The A380 founding fathers anticipated the public clamour for quieter airports, fewer emissions, and less crowded skies. More than any airline in the world, Emirates shared this vision.'
The aircraft operated by Emirates will offer fuel economy as low as 3.1 litres per 100 passenger kms, better than that of Toyota's acclaimed Prius hybrid passenger vehicle (which uses 4.4 litres per 100 vehicle kms).
It also comfortably meets the current EU Stage Three and proposed Stage Four noise level standards.
Following the presentation, HH Sheikh Ahmed and Tim Clark revealed the eagerly awaited interior cabin design of the three classes, comprising a 14-seat First Class, 76-seat Business Class and a 399-seat Economy Class.
Emirates has invested heavily in onboard features to ensure that its A380s are the finest, most comfortable in the sky. The jewel in the aircraft's crown is without a doubt the First Class Shower Spa, two fully equipped bathrooms in its First Class cabins, including shower facilities.
Emirates also unveiled its Onboard Lounge. Located in the Business Class cabin for use by First and Business Class passengers, the Lounge is designed to make passengers feel like they are in their own executive club.
Another First Class social area and bar is located at the front of the upper deck.
Passengers will also notice a difference in the Economy Class cabin, most notably the straight walls which give the impression of increased spaciousness. This feature, combined with the advanced mood lighting system and noticeably quieter cabin, works to combat the effects of jetlag.
Cabin crew operating the Emirates A380s have all undergone intensive training on the aircraft at the new Emirates Crew Training College in Dubai.
For the first time, Emirates has trained Cabin Service Assistants who will be responsible for the Shower Spas, ensuring they are kept immaculate for each use.
The delivery of this aircraft takes the Emirates fleet to 118, including 108 passenger aircraft and 10 freighters.
The 58 A380s are set to play an integral role in the carrier's ambitious network expansion, eventually serving all the major cities in the Emirates' network which spans six continents. This first aircraft will be deployed on the Dubai-New York route, marking the first commercial A380 service to the UAE and US.
Emirates is due to receive five superjumbos in the current financial year, which ends 31 March, 2009, and receive the remaining 53 by June 2013.
The first five 489-seat, long range aircraft will be deployed on some of the carrier's busiest routes including New York, London Heathrow (1st December), Sydney and Auckland (1st February, 2009).
It has also ordered two other versions of the jet including three-class, 517-seat medium range and 604-seat, two-class medium range.
Emirates is by far the biggest customer of the superjumbo which means the Emirates A380 will eventually be available on most number of international routes. If a person is travelling on an A380 there will be around a one-in-four likelihood that they will be flying Emirates.
Emirates' inaugural A380 commercial flight will depart Dubai International Airport at 1100hrs on Friday 1st August bound for New York.
It will arrive at John F Kennedy International Airport at 1700hrs local time.
The flight, which is already fully booked, will take between 12.5 and 13 hours, compared to 14 hours on a Boeing 777.
© 2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )