Dubai: Emirates has become the world's largest operator of the A380 aircraft with a total of 12 in its fleet, which has been generating interest from around the world, a company spokesman said.
The airline's expanding A380 fleet has been attracting attention from airports across the globe as Manchester became the latest city to be served by the superjumbo, Emirates Airlines said in a statement.
A further order for 32 A380s, announced during the Berlin Air Show in June, has prompted a flurry of enquiries from international airports, the company said.
Emirates Airline and Group Executive Vice Chairman Maurice Flanagan, said: "This is a historic moment for Emirates as we bring our 21st century superjumbo to the northwest 20 years after our first flight from the region. Our Manchester service has been an incredible success story, and we're delighted to be opening the next chapter today".
Flanagan who was aboard the first Manchester A380 flight, said: "People are realising that this is the passenger aircraft of the future".
"As a result of our announcement in Berlin, we have had enquiries from more than 20 airports across the world, asking whether Emirates would fly the A380 to their airports."
"These aircraft are a dream to travel in and a dream to have at your disposal for expansion. They are extremely popular with our passengers and where we deploy them, they fill up almost immediately — running at over 90 per cent load factor."
Airbus said the A380 had flown to over 100 airports.
First class cabin
The start of A380 flights to Manchester from today is the first time the world's largest airliner has operated a scheduled service to a regional airport. It is the first time Emirates has brought its first class cabin to the route.
Manchester Airport's Managing Director Andrew Cornish said: "The start of daily A380 services from Manchester to Dubai is a moment in history for our airport and the wider region. It's of such significance that we're expecting thousands of people to visit the airport on September 1 to catch a glimpse of her first flight," Cornish said.
"We've invested around £10 million (Dh56 million) to upgrade the airport's infrastructure to accommodate the flagship of the Emirates fleet and are very much looking forward to welcoming her for the first time." The A380 features private suites, showers, and a lounge for first and business class passengers, .
West Africa now closer
Emirates says it has strengthened its links to West Africa with the launch of a new direct service to Dakar.
A company spokesman said: "EK 797 took off this morning for the airline's 105th destination, creating the only non-stop, scheduled passenger link between Dubai and Senegal".
"The new route will cut current journey times to Dakar by around the equivalent of an eight-hour working day, creating an easy, fast and convenient service for business and leisure travellers."
Nigel Page, senior vice president of commercial operations, Africa and the Americas said: "Today marks a new chapter in air travel between the Middle East and West Africa."
"No more will passengers travelling to and from Senegal face long detours to Europe or other parts of Africa to reach their final destination. Instead, they can enjoy the convenience of a non-stop air link with Dubai, seamless connections to key centres in the Middle East, the Indian Sub-continent, Asia and the Far East through our state-of-the-art Terminal 3, a very competitive baggage allowance and the award-winning in-flight service for which Emirates is renowned."
A company spokesman said EK 797 would depart Dubai at 9.55am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and arrive in Dakar at 4pm.
EK 798 would leave the Senegalese capital at 5.40pm and get into Dubai at 7.15am the following day.
An Airbus A340-300 would be deployed on the route, offering 12 seats in first class, 42 in business and 213 in economy, the company said.
Emirates said Dakar was the fifth new route it had launched this year. The others were Tokyo, which launched on March 28, Amsterdam on May 1, Prague on July 1 and Madrid, on August 1.