It will be another five months before Emirates Airline brings its first Airbus A380 to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport but the Gulf carrier is already touting the luxury amenities it can offer local passengers.
With two on-board shower spas, a premium class lounge and in-flight entertainment with 1,600 video channels in economy class, Emirates divisional senior vice president Hubert Frach said the double-decker aircraft makes the 14- to 16-hour flight comfortable.
“There is a good fit between Dallas and Dubai,” Frach said. “I believe big cities need big airports and big aircraft and all this is happening with the A380.”
When Emirates launched its DFW-Dubai route in February 2012, the carrier used a Boeing 777 with only 266 seats. With the A380, the aircraft has 14 first class seats, 76 business class seats and 399 economy seats, almost doubling Emirates’ capacity on the route. DFW Airport is spending $2.8 million to add a jetbridge to Terminal D to accommodate the A380.
Frach said Emirates upgrade to the A380 in October makes sense as the carrier’s planes on the DFW-Dubai route have load factors in the upper-80s and low-90s, with very few empty seats. About 60 percent of its passengers are connecting through Dubai to other destinations and on the DFW route, Frach said there is strong business travel and leisure demand to cities in the Indian sub-continent.
The carrier, based in the Dubai, faces new competition this year as Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways plan to launch service from DFW to Doha and Abu Dhabi respectively. But Frach said Emirates believes the premium quality of its aircraft will lead North Texas travelers to choose his airline over the other Gulf carriers.
One of his favorite amenities on the A380 is the on-board lounge on the upper deck of the aircraft.
“It is the hot spot on board,” Frach said, adding that the bar is open once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude and doesn’t shut down until the plane begins its descent. “Everyone mingles there and networks there.”