Dubai airline Emirates will deploy its flagship jumbo A380 jet on its daily route to the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo from March, it announced on Monday.
Emirates will be the first ever to operate a scheduled commercial Airbus A380 flight to South America when it begins the service on March 26, 2017.
A three-class A380 will replace the existing Boeing 777-300ER used on the route, offering a total of 491 seats, with 14 private suites in first class, 76 lie flat seats in business class and 401 seats in economy class.
EK261 leaves Dubai every day at 08.35am and arrives in Sao Paulo at 4.30pm. The return flight, EK262, departs Sao Paulo at 01.25am and lands in Dubai at 10.55pm.
The launch of the A380 service will mark Emirates’ 10th year of operations in Brazil, which it began with daily flights between Dubai and Sao Paulo in October 2007, a statement said.
“The Emirates A380 is an iconic aircraft that continues to excite our customers and set the benchmark for travel comfort in commercial flying,” said Hubert Frach, Emirates Divisional senior vice president, Commercial Operations, West.
“The switch to the A380 offers a total of 959 additional seats per week in each direction meeting a growing demand from travellers on the route and demonstrating our commitment to Brazil and to the South American region,” he added.
The new A380 service from Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, will enable Brazilian travellers to fly only on A380s to their final destinations, particularly when travelling to Asian cities, via Dubai, the statement added.
Gustavo Figueiredo, GRU Airport CEO, said: “We made significant investments to upgrade the facilities at GRU Airport – São Paulo International Airport in order to make it A380-compatible. We are very excited about Emirates’ decision to deploy the first A380 in South America to our airport.”
Emirates’ added capacity on the route comes after rival Etihad Airways announced in November that it would suspend flights to Sao Paulo from March 26, 2017.
The Abu Dhabi airline blamed the weakening Brazilian economy for the route’s closure.
Emirates is the world’s largest operator of A380s, with 92 currently in its fleet and a further 50 on order.
The airline currently flies the jumbo jet to more than 40 destinations on its network, including Narita (commencing March 26, 2016), Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Since 2008, the airline has carried over 65 million passengers on its flagship aircraft.