World’s largest airliner returns to Birmingham as Gulf carriers boost capacity

The resumption of A380 flights marks the start of a capacity ramp-up by Gulf carriers over the coming days.

Neil Lancefield
Saturday 01 July 2023 00:01 BST
Emirates began using its Airbus A380s at Birmingham airport in 2016 (Rui Vieira/PA)
Emirates began using its Airbus A380s at Birmingham airport in 2016 (Rui Vieira/PA)

The world’s largest airliner is returning to Birmingham airport as Gulf carriers ramp up capacity.

Emirates will resume using its 615-seater Airbus A380s from Saturday for one of its two daily return flights between the West Midlands airport and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vast majority of A380s around the world were put into storage at the height of the virus crisis, sparking speculation they would never return due to the existence of more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Direct connectivity with the Middle East has never been better

Nick Barton, Birmingham airport

But the model’s ability to carry more passengers than other commercial planes means they are making a recovery.

Meanwhile, airline Saudia will start serving Birmingham airport from Sunday with three return fights per week to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Qatar Airways will return to the airport on July 6 following a three-year absence due to the virus crisis, with daily return flights to Doha, Qatar.

Birmingham airport is hoping the moves mean more passengers will view it as an alternative to London terminals.

It expects to serve around 12.5 million passengers during the current financial year and plans to increase the annual figure to more than 18 million within a decade.

The airport’s chief executive, Nick Barton, said: “Direct connectivity with the Middle East has never been better for our business and leisure customers.

“Emirates, Qatar and Saudia are all major global players connecting Birmingham airport directly to their hub airports, each with impressive onward networks variously serving Australasia, Africa and the Far East.”

Mr Barton cited Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Accenture and HSBC as some of the global brands which have recently established headquarters in Birmingham.

He went on: “Emirates, Qatar and Saudia see Birmingham and the West Midlands as a British region home to six million people, with an economy the size of Hungary’s, on a strong trajectory of growth, and with future economic potential not yet fully realised.

“The draw of the West Midlands strengthens further still when one considers the opportunities offered by the new HS2 railway, which, once operational in the early 2030s, will connect London directly to the Birmingham airport terminal in a barely conceivable 32 minutes.

“That’s a game-changer.”

Emirates UK divisional vice president Richard Jewsbury said: “We’re excited to be bringing back our iconic A380 aircraft back to Birmingham.

“The return will make it easier to connect more passengers to popular long-haul destinations including Thailand, Australia and of course the vibrant city of Dubai for summer and beyond.

“As well as meeting increased customer demand, businesses across the region will be able to take full advantage of the cargo capacity.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with Birmingham airport and our ongoing commitments to the wider Midlands region.”

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