The new service to Melbourne will start on 10 June, initially as a thrice-weekly service, doubling to a six-weekly service on 1 August. The non-stop flights are in addition to the current daily services via Singapore, and will boost Emirates’ flights to Australia’s second largest city (pop. ca. 3 million) from seven to 13 a week by August.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates Group, said: “This is another big step in Emirates’ strategy for Australia. It reaffirms our airline’s dedication to our Australian customers and our determination to play a growing role in the country’s aviation market. A key objective of the increased services is to offer passengers from Victoria the choice of a non-stop service to Dubai and beyond, or a transit through Singapore.”
Emirates will operate its new ultra long-range A340-500 aircraft on the new non-stop Melbourne route. Clocking a flight time of about 14 hours, this new service offers travellers the quickest and most comfortable air travel between Australia and the Middle East.
Victoria’s Premier Steve Bracks said: “This is great news for Victoria as well as for Dubai. It offers more choices to passengers from both ends, and it will help to grow tourist and business travellers’ flows either way.”
He added that the new Emirates services to Melbourne demonstrate the closeness of bilateral relations. The airline commenced Melbourne services eight years ago and has boosted Middle East passenger traffic to Australia to more than 50,000 visitors annually. Visitors from the Middle East last year spent an estimated $31 million in the state of Victoria alone.
The numbers are set to rise even further as Australia becomes an ever more attractive destination for Western hemisphere travellers, especially Europeans.
Richard Vaughan, Emirates Senior Vice President Commercial Operations, East Asia and Australasia said: “All of our Australian flights have met with high demand from tourists from both regions as well as transit travellers who appreciate the excellent connections that Dubai offers to other destinations. The popularity of the kangaroo route has increased in recent years, and we are certain that many of our customers will take advantage of this new Emirates non-stop option to Melbourne.”
Flight EK406 will depart Dubai daily at 10:10hrs and arrive in Melbourne at 05:30hrs the next morning. Return flight EK407 will depart Melbourne at 21:30hrs and arrive in Dubai at 05:40hrs the next day. All times are local.
Emirates was the launch carrier for the brand new Airbus A340-500, the world’s longest-range commercial aircraft. It started operating last December on the Dubai-Sydney non-stop route. As in that case, the A340-500 will cut travel time between Dubai and Melbourne by about 1hr 40min, by eliminating the Singapore refuelling stop.
Emirates’ USD$1.8 billion investment in its fleet of A340-500’s ensures that its long-haul passengers travel in maximum comfort. The aircraft boast several innovations including: the world’s first enclosed suites in First Class; mood lighting which helps to ease jetlag; and an inflight system with over 500 channels - three times as many as on rival airlines.
The A340-500 carries 12 First Class, 42 Business and 204 Economy passengers, and 14 tonnes of cargo. Emirates has taken delivery of four A340-500s, with four more on order.
Emirates started flights to Australia in 1996 with the inauguration of services to Melbourne via Singapore. Daily flights to Sydney, Perth and Brisbane were progressively introduced since 2000. Flying to 74 cities in 52 countries, Emirates operates one of the youngest fleets in the skies, with an average age of three years. New destinations joining Emirates’ network in 2004 include Shanghai, Glasgow, Vienna and New York.