What Happened To Emirates’ Boeing 727s?


Emirates has had an incredibly diverse fleet of aircraft over its many years of operation, from smaller Boeing 737s to gigantic Airbus A380s. But not many people know that the airline did operate three Boeing 727s in its early days.

An Emirates Boeing 727. Photo: Perry Hoppe via Wikipedia

What happened to these aircraft? And how were they essential in creating the airline we know and love today?

The founding of the airline

Emirates was originally founded and backed (but not owned) by the government in March 1985 with help from Pakistan International Airlines. It began with the loan of two Boeing 727-200 Advanced aircraft from the Royal Family’s Dubai Air Wing, as well as a lease of a new 737-300 and Airbus A300 from PIA.


The -200 series got an upgrade during its production to have a higher maximum weight with more powerful engines, and was thus dubbed the ‘advanced’. The aircraft would also have an increased range of 32%, from 1,930 to 2,550 nautical miles (3,570 to 4,720 km). It was from this production line that Emirates’ first 727-200 Advanced aircraft would be pulled.

These aircraft were designed to carry three crew members in the cockpit (captain, first officer and flight engineer), as well as a full complement of flight attendants and passengers. The cabin was configured for two classes, with a total of 134 passengers. Twenty passengers would sit in first class with 38″ of pitch, and 114 passengers would be in economy with 34″ inches of pitch. Rather roomy compared to today.

Emirates history
Emirates Boeing 727 – Its first aircraft. Photo: Ken Fielding via Flickr

Where did they fly?

The aircraft would be used to fly daily services between Dubai and Karachi, with the first beginning on 25 October 1985. From there, the two airframes would help establish a regional route network to destinations such as Sri Lanka, Amman and Cairo.


The aircraft would prove so popular that the airline would buy a third before the end of the 80s to support further expansion. However, the airline would only end up owning three Boeing 727s as they did not have the range to do long-haul international routes.

Emirates would go on to open its first international route to London and begin to pivot from a regional airline to an international carrier. If you want to read more about the history of the airline (dubbed ‘The Lucky Airline’) you can do so here.

What happened to the aircraft?

But what actually happened to the Boeing 727s in the end?


Of the three:

A6-EMC began as an aircraft for three different airlines before arriving at Emirates, Hapag-Lloyd, Tunisair and Global International Airways. It started to work for Emirates in 1984 until 1994 where it was turned into a cargo carrier. It was retired completely and stored in 2011.

A6-EMB was originally bought by the Dubai government back in 1982, and only started with Emirates later in 1988. Emirates retired the airframe in 1995 where it was sold to Qatar as part of its cargo fleet. Then in 2001 it would be moved to DHL and work as a cargo plane again until moving to a third cargo carrier in 2012 where, surprisingly, it is still actively flying in the world.

Two of the Emirates 727s would end up working for DHL. Photo: Sheba via Wikipedia

A6-EMA was the first of the Emirates 727s, and joined the airline in 1985 from the Dubai Air Wing. It would go on to follow in EMB’s footsteps and join Qatar as a cargo carrier and then other cargo carriers to still be flying today.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.


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I felt a bit uneasy to read an article about an airline we know AND LOVE today. Is it not up to the reader to decide that last part? The author clearly likes the airline and that’s fine, but do not assume that readers automatically share the same feeling.

Muhammad Junaid Khan

Hi there, here I’d like to correct you . The Emirates didn’t start the operation by these 2 B727-200. Instead, it leased 2 aircrafts from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), 1. Airbus A300 (AP-BBM) , 2. B737-300 (AP-BCD) and started its very first commercial flight to Karachi as EK600. So please make corrections in this article.

satyen chokshi

Also known as Tristar being 3 engine plane


Good information. It brings back memories of 1980s, when Dubai AirWing was next to CAB hangar where I was working. Saw the birth of Emirates and happy to see the fantastic growth of Emirates.. Congratulations to the Management.


I thought the first 3 aircrafts were leased to EK from PIA…


Emirates did not start with B727 as mentioned in the article
It started with airbus A300 and 737 leased from Pakistan international airlines
Later on B727 joined the fleet


I thought the first 3 aircraft were leased to EK from PiA…


Tri star was made by Lockheed Martin’s.

Rudolph Wratten

Have you checked Cuba.


Actually the “Tristar” and Boeing 727 are completely different aircraft. The Tristar was built by Lockheed and was a wide body jet, where the 27 was a single isle narrow body jet.


The article is very informative. Indeed the airline has come a long way and is special to many people. Everytime I fly with them i feel like I’m home. Well done Emirates.


EMA and EMB both joined Qatar Airways in 1995. They were used for scheduled services until at least 1997. I worked as cabin crew on them during those years. They were painted in the 2nd Qatar Livery (window cheat lines). In the cabin they both retained Emirates seating and galley configurations. The aircraft were by 1996/7 extremely run down in the cabin and more than showed their age. My first flight on the 727 was Dec 1995. Doha – Abu Dhabi – Dubai – Doha. Apart from intra Gulf routes I flew on these aircraft to almost all then QR routes, including one sortie Doha – Cairo – Athens – London Gatwick and return after an over night. I have some photos of the aircraft one or 2 interior shots.

Jorge Reixach Gonzalez

About the 727,s

Theres not 727 flying anymore anywhere. The last flyable 727 flew on January 13th,2019,
a Boeing 727-235 of Arina (Iran).
Nice plane to fly. I flew many times as passanger. Very nice plane.


Everyone is entitled to their opinion
However, I cant fathom what irks Marc while he implies he doesn’t love’ Emirates
They are one of the few international carriers who maintain a high standard of service, punctuality etc
They are making best of the A-380 in spite of all the negativity
Bravo Emirates


As an ex Emirates employee who was there when the airline was formed and later was certifying the B727s as an aircraft engineer, let me bring to your attention few corrections.
Emirates started operation with 2 leased PIA aircrafts, an A300-B4 and 737-300. First operations were to Karachi , Bombay and Delhi. A300-B4 flew to Karachi and Bombay and 737-300 flew to Delhi.
The 727s joined from Dubai Airwing in 1986 and started operating to Colombo, Amman etc from Dubai and Karachi was never a hub.
Thank you for the information that EMA and EMB is still flying as i have an emotional attachment to those aircrafts as the first aircrafts i have worked on.

Chef Nitin shinde

Amazing story of emirates I believed that emirates is the best airlines in the now in all aspect.story of emirates is really inspired to small airlines company.see emirates start it’s operations with the help of PIA n in 1985 and now everybody see where is PIA n where is emirates.thats the success story .behind this there vision of Dubai prince n people of dubai.i wish all the best to all emirates staff n people of Dubai….I have worked for Emirates flight catering this catering company alos no 1 in the world.


It’s funny to think that Emirates once operated narrowbodies, when the smallest plane in their fleet right now is a Triple Seven!

Manuel Alves

These 2 ex-EK B727s may have ended up as freighters later on in their “lives”, but QR flew them first as pax acft.

Manuel Alves

These 2 ex-EK B727s may have ended up as freighters later on in their “lives”, but QR flew them first as pax acft.


Hi Alex where r u I am still in Emirates The nice memory.Ray in UK.


The gvt of Dubai own in Emirates a first class product.Only a well travelled person appreciates it.3 weeks ago I took a break in Dubai so that I could fly Emirates!Tried the business class,not for me,it usually is 1st class,but the business still is in a class of its own.So stop comparing with the past. The present truly is the best of the best.

Syed Farhat Ali

Well in 1990 I was seconding Emirates Airline at Riyadh Airport with STTB appointed by Ahmed Hashim Khory along with saudi national Waleed Abdul Qadir and use to handle these B727 DXB/RUH flights.


Was fascinated to read the journey of the most popular airline. I have not put my feet in the Emirate’ flights but hope one day. The way Emirates acquire and retire their fleet is very interesting and worth emulating by the world particularly the Third World companies which in most cases are dominated by politics instead of technical know how

Peter the pilot

@satyen chokshi No, the Lockheed TriStar was a completely different aircraft. Also the Boeing 727 had two engines (auxilliary power unit doesn’t count)


@satyen chokshi No, the Lockheed TriStar was a completely different aircraft. Also the Boeing 727 had two engines (auxilliary power unit doesn’t count)


I have always liked Boeing aircrafts. Even after the release of Airbus’ Superjumbo, B747 is still my favorite airplane. These aircrafts are literally robust.


I actually flew one of these BOM-DXB as an 8-year old. I am 41 now. Glad to know they are still flying.


This shows high dedication and know corruption mind in the management,from it’s humble beginning to its height today,when a airline was been born an existing airline like the Ghana airways was corruptible manage by a corrupt management.thank you for that little history.

Anil Talpade

Satyen Chokshi; The TriStar was Lockheed’s L-1011.