What Happened To Emirates’ Airbus A310s?

The Airbus A310 was one of Emirates’ first widebody aircraft, kicking off its rise to the giant it is today. Besides being Emirates’ first owned aircraft, it also enabled direct routes to key European cities like Frankfurt. So what happened to these A310s? Let’s find out.

Emirates A310
The final Emirates A310 left the fleet in 2009. Photo: Getty Images

Key step

After years of leased aircraft from the Dubai Royal fleet and Pakistan International Airlines, Emirates took delivery of its first aircraft owned aircraft in 1987. The carrier purchased two A310-300s from Airbus, registered A6-EKA and A6-EKB.

This widebody aircraft opened the horizons for many new routes for Emirates, which previously only flew to destinations in the Middle East in South Asia. The A310s allowed an expansion into Europe, with flights to Frankfurt and Istanbul. More long-haul destinations to cities like Malé, London, and Singapore were slowly added as the fleet grew.

Emirates Airbus A310
The A310 opened up many new routes for Emirates and started its rise to global prominence. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

Following a five-year gap (where it took on A300s), Emirates began taking delivery of more A310s, according to Planespotters.net. In 1992, the carrier took delivery of five new A310-300s and one each in the following three years. In total, Emirates flew 10 passenger A310s, with the final one being delivered in 1995.

Emirates had two layouts for its A310s: a two-class and three-class configuration. The former seated 18 in business class and 177 in economy, while the latter had 18 seats in first class, 32 in business class, and 131 in economy. This was the more common variant.

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Phasing out

While the A310 may have been a gamechanger for Emirates, the carrier quickly began looking for its replacement as it expanded. Two aircraft took over the previous A310 routes in the following year, the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777, starting in the late 1990s.

Both these twin-engine aircraft offered much lower operating costs and higher efficiency than the A310 while seating far more passengers (195 on the A310 vs. 278 on the A330 and 346 on the 777-200). For a growing airline, the changes only made sense.

emirates a330
The A330 and 777 served as the replacements for the less efficient A310. Photo: Getty Images

The first A310, A6-EKA, left the Emirates fleet in 1997 following a decade of service. Eight more aircraft left between 1999 and 2002, but Emirates did hold on to one final A310, registered A6-EKL.

This aircraft remained in the fleet until 2007, far after all the other passenger A310s were retired. It made its final flight on 29th July 2007 after a flight from Alexandria, Egypt to Dubai, ending the type’s 20-year passenger history with Emirates.

A return

While all but one of Emirates’ A310s left the fleet by 2002, the aircraft actually made a return with the carrier as a cargo aircraft. In 2005, Emirates took delivery of three former Aeroflot passenger A310s, which had been converted to freighters. The planes, registered A6-EFA, EFB, and EFC, flew for four years alongside a fleet of 747-400Fs for Emirates SkyCargo.

Emirates A310F
Three A310 freighters joined the Emirates SkyCargo fleet in 2005. Photo: Getty Images

Emirates finally said goodbye to its entire A310 fleet in 2009, ending over 22 years of history for the airline. Since then, it’s A310s have found themselves in fleets worldwide, including as one of the last flew passenger A310s.

What do you think about Emirates’ A310 fleet? Did you ever have a chance to fly them? Let us know in the comments below!