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27/03/2017 - 17:52hs

A380 takes maiden Dubai-São Paulo flight

The plane’s first commercial flight to the Brazilian city with Emirates Airlines touched down at GRU Airport on Sunday (26), increasing passenger capacity by 38% for the carrier’s Brazil-United Arab Emirates route.

André Barros/ANBA

Water-jet baptism: an industry tradition

São Paulo – Around 5 pm on Sunday (26) and nearly half an hour late, Emirates Airlines’ Airbus A380 touched the ground at São Paulo’s GRU Airport. On its first commercial Dubai-São Paulo flight, the world’s biggest aircraft had nearly all of 491 of its seats taken, including 14 first-class suites, 76 business-class seats, and 401 economy-class seats.

The plane was eagerly awaited: a number of journalists, bloggers and VIP guests looked on as the A380 landed, taxied and received a water salute – a traditional industry baptism ceremony. Through the airport grids, curious bystanders and aviation aficionados watched as the giant flew in.

The A380 will replace a Boeing 777-300ER on the UAE-based carrier’s flights to São Paulo. The double-decker plane will increase passenger capacity in this route by 38%. Emirates is now the only carrier offering nonstop flights between the financial heart of Latin America and the Arab country – Saturday (25) saw Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways make its final flight from GRU Airport.

André Barros/ANBA

The plane offers 401 economy-class seats

A few minutes after he stepped off the plane, Hubert Frach, vice president of Emirates’ Commercial Operations West division, gave a short speech during a ceremony attended by the mayors of São Paulo, João Doria Júnior and Guarulhos, Gustavo Henric Costa, plus the São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin. Frach opened by apologizing for the delay: by the irony of fate, Dubai was hit by a storm in the weekend, and that threw off the whole flight schedule at Dubai International (DXB).

The VP stressed that in the ten years since Emirates began flying to Brazil – the first Dubai-São Paulo flight took place on October 1st 2007 – over 2.5 million flew the route. “Emirates is deeply committed with Brazil. We wish to connect São Paulo with an ever-greater number of cities around the world,” he said.

Frach also mentioned the airline’s codeshare agreement with Brazil’s Gol, which connects Middle East flights to 24 destinations across Brazil. Coupled with growing demand in Brazil for Asian destinations such as Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo – all of which are served by the A380 as well –, the arrangement justifies Emirates’ bet on its Brazilian route.

André Barros/ANBA

Business class seats recline to 180 degrees

“Prior to making this decision, we charted out demand and type of traffic. We noticed that demand for premium seats is on the rise, and this aircraft greatly increases supply. The 777-300’s economy cabin offered 42 such seats, whereas now there will be 76; the number of first-class premium seats increased from 8 to 14,” he explained, ruling out any connection between the fact that Etihad is pulling out of GRU Airport and the addition of the A380 to the São Paulo-Dubai route: “The airport required a few infrastructure adjustments, such as using two bridges – one for each deck. Discussions for such moves like this begin months ahead of time. It’s a long-term thing,” he concluded.

In addition to flying daily to São Paulo, Emirates also flies to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires with the Boeing 777-300. Although he concedes that opportunities to increase seat supply are constantly being kept track of, Frach said that at least for the time being, the new plane will not be added to Emirates’ other South America routes.

Inside the A380

André Barros/ANBA

First-class passengers will travel in style

This ANBA reported took a tour of the A380. The lower deck accommodates the economy-class passengers; upstairs, a lounge serves the executive cabin and the 14 first-class passengers, each of whom have an individual shower available to them.

The upper-deck seats are classy: travellers can lie down – the seats recline 180 degrees – and store their belongings in closets. Baggage allowances are bountiful: 35 kg in economy class, 45 kg in executive class, and 50 kg in first class, plus hand luggage.

Upper-deck occupants are treated to a few perks, such as a toiletry and cosmetics bag, assorted snacks, individual fridges, electric plugs to charge devices, and even a tablet to go online – WiFi is available to all passengers the whole flight long.

All passengers can enjoy an entertainment system boasting over 2,600 movies, TV shows, music and podcasts, and much of the content includes Portuguese subtitles for Brazilians. Emirates also supplies books, crayons and toys for the kids.

Flights leave from São Paulo every day at 1:25 am and arrive in Dubai at 10:55 pm. The return trip begins at 8:35 am and ends in Brazil at 4:30 pm, all times local.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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