Once a dime a dozen at Sydney Airport, an Emirates A380 made a now unusual appearance in Sydney on Tuesday. EK414 is now normally operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, but an Airbus A380-800 was substituted on this flight out of Dubai.
Emirates first A380 flight to Sydney this year
According to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com, an Emirates A380-800 registered as A6-EOM departed Dubai (DXB) at 02:27 local time on Tuesday, operating EK414. After 13 and a half hours in the air, the plane touched down in Sydney (SYD) at 21:54 local time on the same day.
After 24 hours on the ground, A6-EOM is due to push back in Sydney at 21:10 local time on Wednesday evening. The Airbus A380 is due to arrive back in Dubai at 05:20 local time on Thursday.
Back in the giddy pre-travel downturn days, Emirates was a big operator at SYD. The airport was one of five Australian airports the airline serviced, often several times a day. Allowing for some seasonal tinkering around the edges, Emirates typically ran four services a day to Sydney, including a couple of A380 services.
Emirates ends A380 flights to Sydney in 2020
The good times came to an abrupt halt last year. Most of Emirates’ A380s were parked. The airline’s global network was trimmed, and frequencies culled. Cities like Sydney saw their A380s swapped out for Boeing 777s. Before everyone stopped flying, SYD was something of an A380 hotspot, with several operators sending their A380s in.
Simple Flying reported Emirates sending an A380 to Sydney last November. We wondered why, later discovering it was a special flight carrying Australian and Indian cricketers. But until last weekend, that appears to be the last time Emirates has sent an A380 to Sydney.
RadarBox.com data suggests until Saturday’s flight, no EK414 or EK416 services to Sydney this year have been operated by an A380. No A380s have operated return EK415 or EK417 services back to Dubai this year.
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The Emirates A380 makes a comeback – but not yet in Sydney
Last week, Simple Flying reported the Emirates superjumbo was making somewhat of a comeback. The Dubai-based airline planned to fly 30 of its A380s this northern summer. According to Emirates, the big planes will wing their way to cities in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. But the only city the Emirates A380 is slated to fly to in the Asia-Pacific region was Guangzhou.
Over the last year, Emirates has kept a handful of A380s in the air. Doing so had a dual purpose. There were a few routes where demand remained relatively strong, and bulging cargo holds made flying A380s worthwhile. But there’s also a matter of keeping crews certified and maintaining their minimum hours.
Most A380 operators have small fleets and could walk away from the plane – as several airlines have. But Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380, with 119 in its fleet. Walking away from the A380 was never an option in Dubai. Retaining the capability to fly the planes when demand normalizes means flight crews need to stay flight-ready. Keeping some A380s in the air assists this.
Even with strict caps on the numbers of passengers allowed into Australia, there are several reasons why Emirates sent an A380 to Sydney on the weekend. But one scenario we can rule out is a full planeload of passengers