Emirates plans A380 one-off to Tehran

17 Sep 2014 by Alex McWhirter

Emirates intends to operate a "one-off" A380 proving flight into Tehran on September 30.

On that date, the superjumbo will occupy flight EK979 out of Dubai at 1415, arriving into Tehran at 1600. It will return as EK980 at 1905, landing back in Dubai at 2150. Flight time is just over two hours.

It's Emirates policy to run proving flights, to see if ground handling at the destination airport can cope, and then to follow up with a regular scheduled service at some future stage. Airlines are known to change schedules, however, so check again before you book or travel.

The news will be welcomed not just by Iranians themselves, but by the Iranian community in Dubai and by Western executives fortunate enough to have secured a visa for Iran.

Tehran is a short distance from Dubai. And with national airline Iran Air a shadow of its former self, because of the West's sanctions policy, the Gulf hubs have become Iran's natural global gateway. Consider that Emirates alone currently operates four flights daily between the two points.

I can recall the heyday of Iran Air in the 1970s when I flew with the carrier to Tehran and Shiraz. It's hard to imagine today but during that period Iran Air was in the process of developing Teheran into a global hub. But it never happened for reasons we all know.

In its day, Iran Air was considered the region’s leading airline. It worked with the late Pan Am on developing a US to Iran air service and employed a number of American pilots. How times have changed.

Alex McWhirter

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