Emirates is celebrating the two-decade anniversary of its inaugral flight to New Zealand.
On August 2, 2003, Emirates landed its first two flights at Auckland International Airport. A Boeing 777-300ER flew in from Sydney and an A330 came in from Melbourne.
The milestone was celebrated with pomp. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chief executive and founder of the Emirates Group, received a traditional Maori welcome in Auckland as he arrived from Melbourne.
The two flights were the beginning of a daily flight schedule that totalled 14 weekly trips, going back and forth from Sydney and Melbourne. Flights from Brisbane would also become available later. In 2004, the airline also introduced flights to Christchurch via Melbourne.
In 2009, Emirates’ famous double-decker A380 aircraft began flying to Auckland. Since then, the Dubai airline has begun direct flights to New Zealand, using the A380 for flights to Christchurch in 2016.
The non-stop Dubai-to-Auckland flight is the longest route that the airline provides, covering about 14,000km. Over the past 20 years, it has completed approximately 49,000 flights to New Zealand, carrying more than 16 million passengers.
Besides its commercial flights, the cargo wing of Emirates also runs regular flights to New Zealand, significantly contributing to the country’s economy. In 2018, the group revealed that in three years, Emirates SkyCargo had transported more than 85,000 tonnes of cargo to and from Auckland. These included fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fish and pharmaceuticals.
Even during the pandemic, when most airlines had suspended their services to the country, Emirates sustained its cargo operations. Its Boeing 777-300ER planes flew to Auckland from Kuala Lumpur and carried almost 18,000 tonnes of medical equipment and vaccines.