Emirates may now be one of the world’s biggest airlines and an aviation juggernaut, but it sprung from fairly humble origins in the mid 1980s. When Emirates started up, it did so with some aircraft that are now distinctly retro, including seven A300 aircraft. They flew with Emirates between 1985 and 2003
Life and times of Emirates’ A300s
An A300 was one of two aircraft wet leased from Pakistan International Airlines to start up Emirates in 1986. The other aircraft was a Boeing 737. Emirates would go on to fly another six A300B4-605Rs and a single A300B4-203. What happened to them?
That first A300 was the sole A300B4-203 Emirates had. When flying in Emirates livery it was registered as AP-BBM. It started flying in April 1979 when it was sent to Hapag Lloyd. Four years later, in 1983, it went across to Pakistan International Airlines. Two years after that, in October 1985, AP-BBM entered service with Emirates.
The aircraft flew with Emirates for three years before it was returned to Pakistan International Airlines. The aircraft went on to fly for PIA for the next 17 years before it was scrapped and broken up at Jinnah Airport.
More measured growth
While Emirates is nowadays known for its rapid rate of growth in the noughties, back in those early days, growth rates were much more measured. It would be four years until Emirates took its next A300. This one was A6-EKC which went to Emirates in May 1989 straight from Airbus. It’s interesting to note that in the short space of time in the late 1980s, Emirates was able to go from leasing a used aircraft to buying a new aircraft.
A6-EKC flew for Emirates for ten years. In 1999, it went back to Airbus and was promptly sent to Sudan Airways. It flew for them for two years. Between the turn of the century and 2017, A6-EKC flew for Tunisair. In 2017 it went to Kraake and Associates, an aircraft supply store in California. The aircraft is now stored and used for parts.
Emirates likes to fly its planes for ten years
The third A300 to be delivered to Emirates was A6-EKD. This arrived in Dubai in June 1990. This too was a new aircraft straight from Airbus. The aircraft flew for Emirates for 10 years. In 2000 it went to Tunisair where it was registered as TS-IPA and named Sidi Bou Said. It does not appear to have flown for several years.
Hot on the heels of A6-EKD, a fourth A300 arrived. A6-EKE arrived in September 1990. It also flew for Emirates for 10 years before also going to Tunisair. Tunisair still has the aircraft. It is registered as TS-IPB and named Tunis. It is recorded as no longer flying.
In 1991, Emirates received A6-EKF from Airbus. Emirates kept it for ten years (sensing a pattern here?). In 2001, the aircraft went to Lufthansa. Lufthansa flew it for seven years before withdrawing the plane from service. The following year, in 2009, A6-EKF went to Kyrgyz Trans Avia who promptly leased it to Mahan Airlines. The plane stayed with Mahan Airlines until it finished flying. It’s lasted recorded flight was in 2017 and it now appears to be stored in Tehran.
The sixth A300 arrived at Emirates in August 1993 and was registered as A6-EKM. It flew the now standard ten-year cycle at Emirates before going to Lufthansa in 2003. Lufthansa kept the plane until 2010 when it went to Mahan Airlines. Last year it was recorded as going to Iran Airtour and it flew as recently as August this year when it operated at Mahan Airlines flight from Tehran to Kish Island.
The A300 era at Emirates was over by 2001
The final Emirates A300 was A6-EKO. It arrived in Dubai in March 1995. Unlike its siblings, A6-EKO only stayed with Emirates for six years. When it went to ILFC in 2002 it marked the end of the A300 era at Emirates. This particular aircraft bounced around the Middle East with various carriers, alternating between Onur Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines. It came to a dramatic end when flying for Saudi and registered as TC-OAG, it landed in Jeddah sans nose gear in May 2012. Fortunately, it was not operating a commercial flight at the time.
The A300 was a part of the Emirates fleet for 16 years. They flew for the airline before it became a glitzy Middle Eastern mega carrier. But the A300, with its reliability and functionality, was one of the building blocks of the modern Emirates airline.