Emirates’ Airbus A380 Returns To Sydney

This time last year, Emirates’ A380s were a common sight at Sydney Airport, the Dubai-based airline having multiple daily services into the city. Nowadays, the vast majority of Emirates’ A380s are parked while the airline sits out the travel downturn, sending their Boeing 777s to Sydney and elsewhere instead. But today, an Emirates A380 is making a welcome return into Sydney.

After a long break, an Emirates A380 is on its way to Sydney today. Photo: Emirates Newsroom

A380 due to touch down in Sydney on Thursday afternoon

EK416 pushed back from its gate at Dubai late afternoon on Wednesday (Dubai time). As this goes to publication, the flight is cruising across the Indian Ocean, tracking to cross the Western Australia coast before the last leg into Sydney. The flight is just over 12,000 kilometers and is expected to take a little less than 13 hours to complete.

While this is the first Emirates A380 to touch down in Sydney for some time, a spokesperson for Sydney Airport told Simple Flying that China Southern Airlines has been operating a thrice-weekly A380 service into Sydney recently.

Emirates has persevered with its Australia flights this year. However, their normal schedules are slashed, with EK416 now running approximately once a week. The airline is also maintaining some flights in Brisbane and Perth.

Sydney is normally Australia’s busiest international airport, typically handling over 45,000 passenger movements every day. Right now, there’s a cap of around 420 daily inbound international passengers. That cap is designed to ease pressure on local quarantine facilities as all incoming international passengers have to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Source: FlightRadar24

The cap has seen strict limits put on how many passengers each flight can bring in. The ceiling can be as low as 30 passengers. Today, Sydney Airport is expecting 12 international flights. Some basic maths tells you these flights will be very lightly loaded with passengers.

That makes Emirates’ decision to send an A380 down to Sydney today an interesting one. Today’s flight is operated by A6-EUR, a plane that comfortably accommodates around 500 passengers.

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Arrivals board getting busier, but passenger numbers kept at low levels

The arrivals board at Sydney Airport today makes for some interesting reading. The United States carriers are making their presence felt. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines each have flights landing from Los Angeles. United Airlines has two flights coming in, one from Los Angeles and one from San Francisco. All four flights arrive in a 45 minute period. While there may not be many passengers on these flights, they reportedly are doing excellent business flying freight across the Pacific.

All Nippon Airways has a Dreamliner heading down to Sydney today from Tokyo Haneda. Air New Zealand has two flights coming in from Auckland, one operated by a Boeing 787-9 and the other by an Airbus A320-200. Jetstar also have an Airbus A320 service coming over from Auckland today.

US airlines are making their presence felt at Sydney Airport. Source: Sydney Airport

Singapore Airlines has an Airbus A350-900 service due into Sydney mid-afternoon, and all three of the big Gulf airlines have services into Sydney today. In addition to the Emirates A380 flight, Qatar Airways has a Boeing 777-300 tracking south of Java’s southern coast right now en route to Sydney. Finally, Etihad also has a 787-9 on its way to Sydney today.

That’s a pretty slender roster of airlines compared to normal times, but it’s a steady flow nonetheless and a big improvement on several months ago. This is especially positive considering the inbound passenger caps. Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, remains notable by its absence.

Simple Flying has contacted Emirates seeking further details on EK416 and whether we’ll see an Emirates A380 back on the run to Sydney more often.

What’s driving these flights? Outbound passenger numbers? Freight? A deliberate strategic decision to maintain a presence in a market? What do you think? Post a comment and let us know.