Timeframe: Remembering the first Emirates flight ... EK600 to Karachi

A look back at the take-off that started it all

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Last year, Emirates carried almost 20 million passengers, making it one of the world's top 10 airlines by passenger traffic. With a fleet of 220 aircraft in active service, and 16,000 highly trained cabin crew, it is also consistently ranked among the world's safest.

It is a remarkable feat for an airline whose first flight took off 37 years ago. Its inaugural flight, EK600 lifted off on October 25, 1985, with Captain Fazle Ghani Mian at the controls.

The airline's first two planes, an Airbus A300 and a Boeing 737 had arrived in Dubai just five days earlier, on lease from Pakistan International Airlines, which also provided crew and support staff.

Captain Mian, who died last year, recalled his experience of the flight that started it all in a 2015 video interview. He said: “On October 18, a group of 100 pilots, flight and aircraft engineers, maintenance staff, among others, all came to Dubai to initiate the planning stages, and we began test flights from then on to ensure everything would operate to plan.

"I was also tasked to train UAE national pilots. They were trained in Dubai and got their commercial licences from the Civil Aviation Authority in Pakistan."

Captain Mian took off at 11.45am and flew to Karachi, with two other flights to Mumbai and New Delhi following close behind.

"We had some great memories from the first flight," he said. "Some of the flight caps were oversized for some of our pilots and they looked quite funny with them on their heads. However, that was a minor detail. We pushed back and took off on time, and this signalled a great achievement for the airline in such a short period of time.”

It would be another two years before Emirates received its first aircraft — adding Amman, Colombo, Cairo and Dhaka to its list of destinations and then Male, Frankfurt and Istanbul — but the foundation had been laid.

Updated: October 29, 2022, 6:29 AM