Emirates Doubles Up On The World’s Shortest A380 Flight

From 1st July this year, Emirates will operate two Airbus A380s between Dubai and Muscat. The distance of the route is the shortest ever for the superjumbo.

Front-on of Emirates A380
Emirates to operate two daily flights of A380 between Dubai and Muscat. Photo: Emirates

Emirates today announced that from July 1st it will fly two A380s a day from its base in Dubai, UAE, to Muscat. The airline will operate EK 862/863 and EK 864/865 on two daily return routes to Oman’s port capital.

The airline’s scheduling of the regular route is significant. It comes exactly a year after a one-off A380 flight between the two countries. The inaugural flight was arranged to commemorate 25 years of Emirates’ operations to Oman.

The company’s decision to up its game is part of a worldwide strategy. It hopes to entice more customers from its nearest neighbors to travel on ‘all 380’ journeys around the world. Omani passengers will now be able to travel from Muscat and interchange at Dubai for international destinations served by the A380.

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World’s shortest route

The Dubai-Muscat route will be Emirates’s ‘shortest scheduled A380 flight’. The distance between the two cities is just 211 miles (340 kilometres).

Each flight is allocated 65-70 minutes. But the actual flight time can be as short as 40 minutes out and 35 back, according to One Mile at a Time.

Emirates A380 on taxiway at Muscat Airport
Dubai to Muscat set to be ‘shortest ever route’ for A380. Photo: Emirates

Before Muscat, Emirates’ nearest airport destination from Dubai was Doha, Qatar, just over 235 miles away. But in 2017, Emirates cut its flights to Doha. This was in line with other Arab States, who accused the Qatari government of supporting international terrorism.

Muscat airport

It’s likely that the one-off flight in 2018 was not only undertaken as a celebration. It was also a way for Emirates to determine Muscat’s logistical suitability for the type. Today’s launch of the twice-daily A380 flights reaffirms the airline’s belief in the ability of the airport to handle big aircraft operations.

Emirates quotes Sheikh Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports as saying:

Muscat International Airport has demonstrated its readiness for this extraordinary event. The arrival of these scheduled flights for this giant aircraft is a gain to prove the large airport capacity to accommodate an aircraft of this size.”

A380 configuration

Although the route is short, passengers are promised the same level of comfort as that afforded to its passengers on long-haul flights.

Both A380s flying to Muscat will be operated in a three-class configuration. There will be 429 economy class seats on the lower deck. Business class will include 76 flat-bed seats, and the upper deck will include their amazing first class private suites.

Interior of Emirates A380 first class
Dubai-Muscat passengers are promised the same level of comfort as that afforded to its passengers on long-haul flights. Photo: Emirates

Divisional Senior Vice President Sheikh Majid Al Mualla said of the move:

The introduction of the A380 services to Muscat means more of our customers will have the opportunity to experience our industry-leading products on board, and will also enhance choice and travel preferences as they plan their journeys.”

UAE and Oman

Oman is an important destination for Emirates. The carrier has been flying to the Gulf State since 1993. The airline already operates three daily Boeing 777-300ERs between Dubai and Muscat.

The opening of the new A380 route to Muscat represents not only another phase in the airline’s bid to grow operations. It will also further heal the relationship between the two countries which in recent years has become strained by disparate allegiances.

  1. Introducing just 1 daily A380 frequency on the Dubai – Muscat (Seeb) route is a logistic, operational and economic challenge for the whole process of checkin, CIQ, pre boarding and finally boarding.

    In addition, there is baggage and cargo handling, catering, and engineering ram servicing and pushback which requires aircraft typed specific handling equipment. Any breakdown of a single aircraft type specific equipment would mean a gross delay which may require deplaning.

    With already 3 B777-300 frequencies, it is not much effort, manpower, logistics and cost to just mount 2 additional frequencies of the same type. It addition, it gives a better choice of timings to the travelling public, with less congestion all round, After all landing slots are not an issue at both destinations.

  2. Landing slots are an issue at Dubai, at least until its new airport opens for passenger traffic (currently freight only).
    Another reason for these short A380 flights is likely an attempt to keep its aircrew current in terms of licence requirements: not too many landings and T/Os on those (generally) intercontinental flights. Remember Singapore Airlines introducing its A380s on a similar short hop between Singapore and Jakarta? Or Emirates itself between SYD and AKL Auckland NZ?

  3. I regard the A380 as the ultimate cattle mover. By that I mean that if the aircraft was configured as all economy high density it could conceivably carry nearly 1000 people. I am not talking about long haul inter continental flights but rather flights that carry high volume traffic over a relatively short distance at fares that would compete with rail and road. Short distances equate to light fuel loads thereby increasing the available payload weight.

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