Islamabad - The New Islamabad International Airport on Sunday marked a special moment after Emirates’ largest passenger aircraft, A380, touched down the airport for a one-off flight.

This was for the first time that the iconic double-decker aircraft landed in Pakistan. The landing demonstrated the airport’s readiness to accommodate A380, the world’s largest commercial passenger jet.

The A380 flight was operated by UAE national, Chief Pilot Capt Abbas Shaban and a Pakistani national, First Officer Qadir Moin.

The special flight, operating as EK 2524, was joined by a VIP delegation led Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Centre.

He was joined by Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, the UAE Ambassador to Pakistan and Pakistan Ambassador UAE to Moazzam Ahmad Khan.

Also travelling on the flight as special guests were two Pakistani members of Emirates’ first ever team, Captain Fazle Ghani, the airline’s first chief pilot and team lead for inaugural operations and Capt Ejaz-ul Haq, one of the pilots who operated the first ever Emirates flights from Dubai 33 years ago.

Upon landing at 12:10 am at the Islamabad International Airport, the aircraft was met with a ceremonial water cannon salute, and the Emirates delegation was welcomed by government officials and the airport executives. After a welcoming ceremony, government officials, VIPs, media and members of the travel industry were given a guided tour of the A380 by the Emirates cabin crew.

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Centre said: “We are proud to have operated this special A380 flight to Islamabad, the first time ever that our flagship aircraft has landed in Pakistan. The Emirates A380 is fundamental to our overall strategy, and bringing this popular aircraft to Islamabad represents a significant milestone in our operations to Pakistan, a country we flew our first ever flight to in 1985. We are very keen to now launch a scheduled A380 service to Pakistan and will continue to work with authorities to make these plans a reality.”

Emirates and Pakistan have a long-standing relationship that spans over 30 years, when the airline’s first flight flew from Dubai to Karachi on 25 October 1985. Since then, Emirates has grown exponentially in Pakistan, and today the airline operates 71 weekly flights between Dubai and six cities in Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sialkot and Multan, offering Pakistani travellers convenient access to over 150 global destinations.

Emirates also employs over 5,000 Pakistani nationals as flight deck crew, cabin crew and in various others positions across the airline.

Hundreds of passengers travelled on the special flight, many of whom had made their bookings, especially for the unique flight.

The passengers on board began their journeys from 25 countries reflecting Emirates’ global mix of customers who will benefit from this route.

The Emirates A380 aircraft that operated this special one-off service to Islamabad was set in a two-class configuration offering spacious seats in economy class and fully flat-bed seats in business class as well as Emirates’ popular onboard lounge.

Passengers in all classes enjoyed free Wi-Fi to stay in touch with family and friends and Emirates’ multi-award winning in-flight entertainment system ice with up to 3,500 channels of movies, TV programmes, music and podcasts on the industry’s biggest personal screens in each class of travel.