When one hears the name Emirates, its current large fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s immediately springs to mind. However, it has operated a far more diverse array of aircraft over the years, even including some narrowbody jetliners. Among these were three Boeing 727s, which saw nine years of service at the Dubai-based UAE flag carrier.
In the beginning
Emirates was originally founded and backed (but not owned) by the UAE government in March 1985. It also received help getting off the ground (quite literally!) from Pakistan International Airlines. For its launch just over 35 years ago, the Pakistani flag carrier leased Emirates an Airbus A300 and a Boeing 737-300. The Royal Family’s Dubai Air Wing also provided two 727s.
Boeing upgraded the 727-200 during its production. This gave it a higher maximum weight, as well as more powerful engines. As such, this was dubbed the ‘advanced’ model. The aircraft would also have a 32% greater range, upgrading from 3,570 to 4,720 km (1,930 to 2,550 NM). It was from this production line that Emirates would pull its first 727-200 Advanced aircraft.
These aircraft featured a three-seat flight deck- as well as the captain and first officer, a flight engineer was also present in the cockpit. The cabin featured a 134-passenger, two-class seating configuration. The 20 first class passengers enjoyed 38 inches of pitch, a figure comparable to today’s US domestic first class products. In economy class, each of the 114 passengers had 34 inches of pitch. This is rather more spacious than the majority of today’s economy offerings.
Where did Emirates’ 727s fly?
The aircraft initially operated daily services between Dubai and Karachi, Pakistan. From there, the two trijets helped establish a regional route network to other Middle-Eastern countries such as Jordan and Egypt. They also operated services to destinations further afield, including Sri Lanka.
The 727 proved so popular at Emirates that it acquired a third example before the end of the 1980s. This supported its further expansion, although it did not take on any more 727s. This was because Emirates changed from a regional airline to a long-haul international carrier with the opening of its route to London. While the 727s were handy for its regional services, Emirates needed larger aircraft with longer-range capabilities for its new operations.
What happened to the aircraft?
All in all, Emirates flew the Boeing 727 for nine years between 1986 and 1995. This period provided the foundations for the airline to become the worldwide giant that it is today. It is a fair parallel to draw in saying that Emirates’ booming growth has mirrored that of Dubai itself! But what became of the carrier’s three 727s after their time at the airline came to an end?
A6-EMA was the first of Emirates’ 727s, and joined the airline from the Dubai Air Wing. It transferred to Qatar Airways for cargo use in 1995. Since then, it has flown for other freight airlines such as DHL and, most recently, Kalitta Air. Planelogger.com reports that it remains active with Kalitta today.
Emirates acquired A6-EMB in 1988 from the Dubai government. It eventually retired the airframe in 1995. Since then, Planelogger.com reports that it has had an almost identical career to its classmate A6-EMA. Its most recent transfer took it to Kalitta Air in 2012, where it remains in service today.
A6-EMC operated for three different airlines before arriving at Emirates. These were Hapag-Lloyd, Tunisair, and Global International Airways. It flew for Emirates until 1993. After a year in storage, it was turned into a cargo carrier for AeroMexpress in 1994. 32 years after its first flight, it was retired completely and stored in 2011.
Did you know that Emirates had operated Boeing 727s in its early years? If so, did you ever get the chance to fly on one? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!