On 2 August 2003, Emirates launched its first service from New Zealand, marked by two inaugural flights – the first via Sydney on a Boeing 777-300ER and the second on an A330 from Melbourne.
Emirates has since flown over 16 million passengers between Dubai and New Zealand across 49,000 flights to Auckland and Christchurch. Emirates is currently flying 14 weekly flights to New Zealand from Dubai, with direct daily services to Auckland, and to Christchurch via Sydney, offering passengers the only opportunity to travel trans-Tasman on an A380.
Emirates’ Dubai to Auckland service remains the longest route on the airline’s network, at 14,000km. Christchurch is the smallest city on the network to be serviced by the flagship A380.
In March 2023, New Zealand became the first country to exclusively operate Emirates’ new four-class A380 on all services.
Barry Brown, divisional vice president for Australasia at Emirates, says during the last 20 years, New Zealand has continued to be an important market.
‘This is clear today as the country sits firmly at the forefront of our latest onboard product.’ Brown says. ‘The Emirates A380 experience remains highly sought after by travellers and we are committed to sourcing and serving local New Zealand ingredients and wines onboard.’
Anniversary marked with events and prizes
To mark the 20 year anniversary of Emirates flying into New Zealand, Emirates celebrated in style in Christchurch and Auckland with agents, media, and other members of New Zealand trade.
The classic shrimp cocktails of the inaugural event 20 years ago were traded for champagne and canapes, as gathered media and members of the aviation industry celebrated the history of Emirates, and looked ahead to the future.
The Auckland event was held on Wednesday night, 2 August, at the Pullman Hotel. The Christchurch event was held on Thursday night, 3 August, at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.
New Zealand regional manager, Chris Lethbridge noted that many from the country’s aviation industry were in the room to celebrate the milestone, including some faces that had been at the original event.
‘Twenty years ago to the day we held our first New Zealand function at the Civic, but even that historic building was not large enough for our group of 650, a marker of how significant it was to see a big international airline entering the market. Now, 20 years later to the day, the partnership between Emirates and New Zealand is no less significant.’
Attendees at both the Auckland and Christchurch events had the opportunity to win prizes on the night, with two pieces of collectors’ sports memorabilia; a signed Arsenal jersey and a signed ICC Champions trophy cricket bat. At the Auckland event Carol Sutton from House of Travel Hamilton City and Sandy Trapski from Tandem Travel won the prizes, and in the Christchurch event James Greer from House of Travel Riccarton and Rochelle Hannah-Evans, House of Travel Barrington walked away with the two priceless pieces of sports history.