Emirates to put Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to the test with A380 flight

Emirates airline will fly a one-off A380 flight to Chicago after being invited by O’Hare International Airport to test the special gate for the double-decker plane.

Famous for being the world’s largest operator of the A380, the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, Emirates said it will fly the jet to Chicago on July 19. The flight is meant to test “the gate, operations and significant infrastructure improvements that have been implemented to accommodate A380 service”, the Dubai carrier said.

The A380, which can carry about 540 passengers, has been key to Emirates’s global route expansion and the surging traffic numbers through its hub at Dubai International Airport, which is the world’s busiest airport for international travel.

The Dubai airline currently operates 81 of the superjumbos, including four to the United States. It has another 61 A380s on order.

On Wednesday, Airbus, the European manufacturer of the A380, said that it is sharply cutting the production of the superjumbo aircraft due to lack of demand. Airbus said it will only make one aircraft a month in 2018, down from the 27 built last year. Emirates affirmed the deliveries of the A380 in 2018 “will not be impacted”.

Meanwhile, the coordination between Emirates and Chicago O’Hare International Airport comes amid on-going strife between US carriers and Arabian Gulf airlines over claims that the latter receive state subsidies worth billions of dollars – a claim denied by the Gulf’s big three airlines, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

The dispute has been simmering for almost two years, with claim and counterclaim of alleged anti-competitive practices. However, both sides have avoided tit-for-tat allegations in recent months.

In June, the UAE’s aviation chief said that he would hold “technical talks” with US officials in mid July, during which the subject of airline subsidies would be discussed.

Emirates said that its existing Boeing 777 service to Chicago provides US$383 million in annual economic benefit, contributes more than $153m in annual spending by visitors, and helps to support more than 3,000 US jobs, according to Campbell-Hill Aviation Group.


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Shereen El Gazzar

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