Friday, September 30, 2011

Seattle to Get Emirates Flight, Possibly Airbus A380?:
This Emirates Boeing 777-300ER is in Seattle, but only because it was built there. Soon one will be based in Seattle.

This Emirates Boeing 777-300ER is in Seattle, but only because it was built there. Soon one will be based in Seattle.

Emirates has announced they will start flying non-stop from Dallas and Seattle to Dubai starting early next year. Flights from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) will commence on February 2, 2012 and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on March 1, 2012. The airline is also looking at possible expansions to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Before 9/11 Emirates had plans to expand in the US, but their plans were put on hold due to lack of demand. Currently, Emirates is the world’s number one airline in international traffic and they feel it is time to increase service to the US.

We’ve always had fairly ambitious plans for the U.S. and this is part of that,” Emirates President Tim Clark told Bloomberg. “It’s an immense market. There will be more to come, including increased frequencies and bigger planes. We have ideas for the East Coast, the north-south axis in the center and for the west.”

Emirates will operate their new flights from DFW and SEA using Boeing 777-300ERs, but the airline is speaking openly about using larger Airbus A380s on future US routes.

“The A380 will be an option for all U.S. operations post- 2013, when the plane will have a higher takeoff weight, so that routes such as Dubai-Los Angeles become a distinct possibility,” he said. “And most U.S. airports are A380- capable or will be.”

Being based in Seattle, it is very exciting to hear that not only will a new airline start operations here, but that they are also contemplating using the Airbus A380 in the future. As of now, no airline operates the A380 to SEA and even with this announcement, it seems it could still take a while.

“We do not have any immediate plans to bring the A380 to Seattle, although this may be something we consider in the future,” Jim Baxter, Vice President North America, Emirates Airline explained to via email. Even if Emirates was ready to operate the A380 to Seattle, the airport is not able to handle scheduled service of the world’s largest airliner.

“We can handle the A380 in emergencies, however we do not have facilities for regular use, such as the multiple gate loading ramps, for the aircraft, Perry Cooper, SEA’s Media and Public Affairs Manager explained. “At this time, if an A380 were to arrive and need to access a gate, safety guidelines would require all traffic to stop until the aircraft stopped at its gate, due to the width of taxiways and safety zones next to the runways.”

The A380 is so large, that it would currently take up two of SEA’s gate configurations and due to the cost and lack of direct demand, the airport does not “currently have plans to expand to accommodate the A380.”

Image: Rick Schlamp

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