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.
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.
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.
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.
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