It is hard to imagine the commercial aviation landscape without the connecting might of the Gulf carriers. Emirates has become especially known for its large fleet of Airbus A380s, and an even larger fleet of Boeing 777s – with more on the way, when the 777X makes it into service. However, the history of the Emirates fleet is much more varied, even containing a narrowbody aircraft or two.
Today, Emirates is synonymous with the largest aircraft, operating a fleet currently consisting of 119 Airbus A380s and 144 Boeing 777s – and one additional VIP-configured A319. The airline placed its first order for seven Triple Sevens – with options for the same amount – in 1992. It received the first 777-200 in 1996. However, Emirates has operated several other types over the course of its 36-year long history.
The Boeing single-aisle jets
In October 1985, Emirates operated its first flights to Karachi and Mumbai, using one Airbus A300, and one Boeing is 737-300. Both aircraft were on loan from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Emirates, due to its business model of ferrying connecting passengers via Dubai, has never been keen on narrowbody aircraft – apart from those first 737 flights, and a couple of Boeing 727s. According to data from ch-aviation, the airline operated two 727-200 trijets between 1985 and 1995, after when they both went to Qatar Airways.
The two planes first entered service with Dubai Air Wing, the paramilitary carrier of the UAE government. After leaving Emirates, they stayed with Qatar until the early 2000s and now fly cargo for Kalitta Charters II.
The A300 and the A310
The airline took delivery of its first owned aircraft, an A310, in July 1987. It was to operate a little over ten of the type, including three freighters. The Dubai-based flag carrier has also operated a large number of other Airbus widebodies. Between 1999 and 2016, Emirates flew 29 Airbus A330-200s.
Deliveries took place over a period of four years, and the airline deployed the aircraft mainly on routes within the Middle East and to India. Emirates owned about a third of the aircraft while leasing the rest. The planes had 237 seats in a three-class configuration.
The Airbus A340 enjoyed a shorter career with Emirates than its dual-engined Airbus relative. Deliveries of 18 A340s began in October 2003, lasting for a period of just under two years. However, the quadjet was phased out of the fleet from 2013, with the final A340 leaving Dubai three years later.
The fleet consisted of eight A340-300s and ten A340-500s, each offering 258 seats. Emirates sent its final A340 on a route to Kabul, Afghanistan, before sending it off for storage in Teruel, Spain, where it has since been scrapped.
Boeing 747 freighters
Emirates is also no stranger to Boeing quadjets – although in quite modest numbers, and only for cargo. Between February 2001 and December 2016, the airline had six Boeing 747-400F in its fleet – although these were msotly operated by other cargo carriers, such as Atlas Air.
Which of these types have you flown? Leave a comment below and share your memories.