As of 1st July, Fly Emirates will offer its daily Nice to Dubai flight with an A380. Long awaited on the Cote d’Azur, this very large carrier previously served only Paris.
This time it has landed for good. After Paris, it is via Nice that the A380 will make its entry to France. Nearly ten years after its launch and its first trials on the tarmac of the French Riviera, the biggest airliner in the world will serve Nice Côte d’Azur airport. As of July 1, the A380 will run the daily Nice-Dubai flight from Fly Emirates, previously operated by a Boeing 777. A strong signal was sent in Nice by Thierry De Bailleul, general manager of the company. It is “an important event” for the airport in Nice, according to the president of its executive board, Dominique Thillaud.
A top flight offer
Measurements: a 798 m wingspan, 72.7 m in length, 24.1 m in height. The A380 does not go unnoticed. Arranged on two gateways, this “extraordinary plane”, according to Thierry De Bailleul, holds 519 seats in its Emirates configuration, divided between economy class (429), business class (79) and first class (14). That’s 3,633 seats a week. Thanks to this very large carrier, the capacity of the Nice-Dubai line will jump by 44%. And the level of service along with it.
The flight Dubai-Nice will take off at 8:20 local time, to land at 12:35. It will leave Nice at 14:30 to land in Dubai at 23:45. Once in the UAE mega-hub, a traveller can extend their journey to 154 tempting destinations such as Sydney, Shanghai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Johannesburg or Mauritius. It takes 5 hours 45 minutes to fly from Nice to Dubai.
We must go back to 2008 and 2009 to recall the first XXL tests of the A380 in Nice. Its last passage dates from 2011, for the inauguration of the very large carrier gateway. Fly Emirates is thus the first company to bring the A380 to Nice, where it has been present for twenty-three years. And the case was not obvious. “Whatever the airport, to land such a large plane is a technical challenge,” insisted Thierry De Bailleul. “Our priority is safety and security. This is atypical, with the A380 being technically above average.” Why was this big bird so desirable? Dominique Thillaud’s answer is simple: “We were waiting for a customer willing to take the risk of getting the A380 to Nice.” Industrial risk, it’s understood. On the technical side, the terrain has been marked out. Plus there are extended ramps, refurbished corners. “The teams at the airport have been doing a considerable amount of work for two years,” said Dominique Thillaud. The A380 will take up quarters at Nice at station 54, between Terminal 2 and the river Var.
With an average filling rate above 80%, the B777 and its 360 seats were no longer enough to satisfy the demand on the Nice-Dubai journey. For Thierry De Bailleul, the A380 represents “an opportunity for the people of Nice who want to go on a leisure trip and the businessmen of the region, but also an additional argument to favour tourism and imports, in this attractive region.” David Lisnard, chairman of the Regional Tourism Committee, applauds this strengthening of ties with Dubai, as offering “tremendous development potential for Côte d’Azur in France.”
The announcement of Emirates is not a surprise. Last July, its CEO, Tim Clark announced that Nice would be the next destination of the jewel of Airbus. Emirates alone accounts for more than 40% of the bookings of the A380, of which it holds 93 models. “Without us, this programme would not be profitable! And it makes it possible to secure 14,500 jobs in France,” explained Thierry De Bailleul.
Battle of the Skies
The landing of the A380 will coincide with the return of Qatar Airways to Nice. Did Emirates draw its secret weapon to counter the other big company from the Gulf? “We do not define ourselves in relation to our competitors. On the contrary, competition is healthy,” insisted Thierry De Bailleul. Sure of its strength and quality of service, Emirates admits to having revised its rates upward, “to return to a more reasonable price. They had gone down very low, in an airfield where the margins were 2%.” In the end, the A380 allows Emirates to continue its flight to Nice without having to seek the green light from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC). To date, the company is limited to 32 flights between France and the Emirates, including 7 in Nice. Thierry De Bailleul summarised: “As we cannot make two flights a day, we added an A380.”
So whether you fly for pleasure or business, customers will surely be pleased with the new A380 flight between Dubai and Nice via Fly Emirates.