What Happened To Emirates’ Boeing 737?

Emirates had more humble beginnings than its present fleet of long-haul giants like the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 suggests. Indeed, it commenced operations in 1985 on a far smaller scale, initially operating short-haul flights to Middle-Eastern destinations. One of the planes with which it did this was a Boeing 737, but what is the story of this aircraft?

Boeing 737 Sunset Getty
Even large carriers like Emirates have to start small. Photo: Getty Images

Emirates and its Boeing 737

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) provided Emirates with extensive support during its early years. It did so by leasing aircraft to the newly-formed carrier, including an Airbus A300 and a Boeing 737-300. Let’s take a look at the history of the latter of these.

According to Planespotters.net, PIA first received the 737-300, registered as AP-BCD, in June 1985. At the time of its delivery, it was fitted with an all-economy 124-seat configuration. However, just four months later, PIA leased the aircraft to Emirates to operate some of its first services. AirFleets lists AP-BCD’s first day as an Emirates aircraft as being October 21st, 1985.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests!

Pakistan International Airlines PIA Boeing 727 Dubai
AP-BCD departing Dubai as a PIA aircraft in 2012. Photo: Aeroprints.com via Wikimedia Commons

After just over two years at Emirates, AP-BCD left the airline on October 28th, 1987. At this point, it returned to PIA, who had leased the aircraft to Emirates, where it spent the rest of its career. All in all, AP-BCD flew commercially for nearly three decades, before PIA finally withdrew it on June 17th, 2014. It had a re-configured two-class layout during its second spell at PIA, featuring 24 premium economy seats and 94 in standard economy.

Other Boeing narrowbodies at Emirates

AP-BCD was not the only single-aisle Boeing jetliner to grace the Emirates fleet in the Dubai-based UAE flag carrier’s early years. Indeed, over a nine-year spell, the airline also flew three trijet 727s on its shorter routes. It initially flew two examples, before adding a third in 1988.

Emirates Boeing 727
Emirates also operated the three-engine 727 in its early years. Photo: Perry Hoppe via Wikimedia Commons

Emirates’ 727s largely flew to other Middle-Eastern countries such as Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt. However, occasionally, they could be found further afield, on routes serving destinations such as Sri Lanka. However, they could not provide the range or capacity required for Emirates’ growing longer-haul operations. As such, the last 727 left its fleet in 1995.

Unlikely to invest in the latest 737 series

February 2021 saw the UAE add itself to the list of countries that had recertified the Boeing 737 MAX series. UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) will require operators to submit plans for how they will safely re-introduce the type to active commercial service.

Emirates A380
Emirates even operates the Airbus A380 on some of its shorter routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

However, while low-cost carrier flydubai has a substantial MAX order, Emirates has not made such a commitment. This is understandable, given the airline’s high-capacity model, even on its shorter routes. For example, it allocated the Airbus A380 to certain summer 2021 services to Middle-Eastern destinations such as Amman, Cairo, and Jeddah.

Did you know that Emirates had operated a Boeing 737? Have you ever seen or flown on AP-BCD, either at Emirates or during its two spells at Pakistan International Airlines? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!