Emirates airline will begin flying the world’s largest passenger plane — the Airbus A380 — to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Oct. 1, the airport announced Thursday.The Persian Gulf carrier launched daily nonstop service from DFW to Dubai in 2012, and those flights are more than 90 percent full. The airline now operates the 16-hour flight on a Boeing 777-200LR with 266 seats.Emirates is the largest operator of A380s in the world, with 47 in its fleet and 97 on order from Airbus.“With the A380, we are not only bringing our flagship product to serve our leisure and business customers, but also demonstrating our commitment and confidence in the economic and tourism potential of the region,” Emirates Senior Vice President Hubert Frach said in a statement.Depending on how its seats are configured, Emirates’ A380 can carry 489 to 517 passengers. The airline recently received its 46th and 47th A380s from Airbus and announced last week that it will use an A380 on its routes to London’s Gatwick Airport.Emirates said it will use the 489-seat A380 on its DFW-Dubai route. That means an additional 223 seats daily, or 84 percent more capacity than the Boeing 777-200LR.“It will double the capacity of people flying to the Middle East into DFW,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said. “It really is a huge step up.”Emirates’ A380 also features private suites and shower spas in first class, flat-bed seats in business class, and extra legroom and custom lighting in economy class, the carrier says on its website.The flight departs at 12:35 p.m. from DFW and arrives in Dubai at 12:20 p.m. the next day. The return flight leaves Dubai at 2:45 a.m. and arrives at DFW at 9:45 a.m. on the same day.Airport CEO Sean Donohue said DFW has been talking with Emirates about the A380 for a couple of months to prepare Gates D15 and D16 for the large aircraft. Although this is the first A380 to operate daily at DFW, Donohue hopes other airlines will consider using the aircraft on DFW routes.“We hope this starts a trend,” Donohue said Thursday. “When other carriers see the 380 being successful at this airport, that will hopefully open up some more opportunities for us.”Other airlines at DFW with A380s in their fleets include British Airways, Korean Air, Qantas Airways and Lufthansa. The airport’s largest carrier, American Airlines, has no A380s on order from Airbus.Last month, the DFW board approved a $2.8 million contract to modify jet bridges at Terminal D to accommodate the huge double-decker aircraft. The airport staff expected to need the modified jet bridges by Oct. 1 but declined at the time to identify which airline made the request.In September, a Lufthansa A380 landed at DFW after it was diverted from its original destination of Houston because of severe weather. Another Lufthansa A380 was diverted to DFW in December, also because of weather.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk