To celebrate 25 years of service out of Gatwick, Emirates landed its flagship A380 aircraft at around midday today, the first scheduled A380 landing the airport has ever conducted.
The aircraft came in from Dubai and was the high-density version (to see a seat plan, click here) with over 500 passengers onboard (full load is 517 passengers), setting another record for the most passengers ever received on one aircraft by the airport.
Gatwick still does not have a gate fully capable of dealing with A380 arrivals, but is in the process of building a three-bridge gate on Pier 6, allowing the airport to launch regular A380 flights from next summer.
Emirates started its UK operation on July 6, 1987 with a daily service from Gatwick to Dubai.
Guy Stephenson, commercial director at Gatwick Airport said it was an emotional experience seeing the A380 land for the first time, lauding it as “one of the best days I have ever had working here.”
Laurie Berryman, Emirates vice president UK said that bringing in the A380 served two purposes, first to prove that it “fits the airport perfectly well” and also to celebrate 25 years of service at the airport.
Berryman added that Emirates currently has 21 A380s, with a further 69 on order. “Given the popularity of the aircraft with passengers from the south east, it is our hope that Gatwick will join Emirates’ A380 network in the future,” he says.
Emirates currently operates three flights between Gatwick and Dubai daily, using B777 aircraft. It has recently announced that all flights from London Heathrow will be served by A380 from February (see online news July 5) and already uses the superjumbo out of Manchester.
Report by Scott Carey