Passengers flying between London Heathrow and Dubai later this month are in for a treat. From March 25, Emirates will be using its flagship Airbus A340-500 (A345) aircraft on selected flights into Heathrow.
Normally this ultra long-haul Airbus is to be found plying prestigious routes linking Dubai with Australasia and Japan. But now the A345 has begun appearing on European services.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday Emirates will use the A345 on flight EK7 from Dubai at 0230 which reaches Heathrow the same morning at 0705. It returns with EK8 from Heathrow at 0840 arriving in Dubai at 1840. On the other days, the carrier will use its regular Airbus A330.
The A345 features Emirates' latest seating which means you get a fully flat 'suite' in first class and angled lie-flat seating in business class. It also claims to have the quietest cabin aloft. Fans of this plane will already find it operating one of Emirates' two daily services between Zurich and Dubai.
The services in question are EK87 from Dubai at 0845 reaching Zurich at 1255 returning with EK88 at 1440 and landing in Dubai at 2340.
In a further development travellers in Northern Germany will also get to sample the A345 on transatlantic flights to New York and services to Dubai. That is because Emirates has decided to downsize its daily Dubai-Hamburg-New York JFK service (flights EK205 and EK206) from a larger B777 to the smaller A345.
Emirates has traffic rights on all sectors. It can carry passengers right the way through from Dubai to New York as well as Dubai-Hamburg, Hamburg-New York and vice versa.
Although the airline cannot give a specific date for the switch a spokesperson for Emirates says, "We have been seriously impacted by the delays in delivery of the Airbus A380 [the super jumbo] and now have to deploy our fleet to ensure the best aircraft-destination fit. We will replace the B777-300ER with an Airbus A345 from spring 2007."
In other news, an Emirates' A380 model will replace BA's Concorde at Heathrow from April 1.A model of BA's former supersonic plane is strategically placed at the roundabout just before road users enter the Central Area tunnel. The famous advertising site, for which BA is reckoned to pay airport operator BAA a fee of £1.5 million a year, is viewed by 25 million Heathrow users annually.
Emirates has signed a six year deal for the site which will cover the period of the London Olympic Games in 2012.
For more information go to emirates.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter