RIYADH, K.S.A., 24th September 2011: Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport welcomed Emirates’ award-winning A380 last night, in celebration of Saudi Arabia’s 81st National Day.
The celebratory A380 flight, touched down to a water cannon salute before Captain Ali Kashwani and First Officer Yousuf AlShamsi, both UAE Nationals, waved the Saudi flag from their cockpit windows in honour of the country’s National Day. The 489 passengers on-board were then welcomed by key officials including; His Excellency Mohammed bin Saeed Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al Anqari, Vice President KSA Civil Aviation General Authority and Adil Al Ghaith, Emirates Vice President Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Travelling on the flight from Dubai was Senior Emirates executive Ahmed Khoory, Emirates Senior Vice President, Gulf, Middle East and Iran. Emirates also played host to a number of key UAE based officials including; Mohammed Al Marri, Director General, Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs and Salah Rashid Al Ansari, Director of Dubai Tourism.
“It is fitting that on the occasion of the country’s 81st National Day we have landed our flagship aircraft in the country’s capital. For Emirates our A380 is symbolic of our determination to succeed in much the same way that the Kingdom’s National Day embodies the passion of this great nation. Today’s A380 service to King Khalid International Airport reinforces the strong bond that Emirates shares with Saudi Arabia and we congratulate the country on their National Day” said Ahmed Khoory.
"I deeply thank our brothers in the UAE and Emirates airline for sharing our celebration of Saudi National Day. Emirates' A380 to Riyadh is the first time this incredible aircraft has touched down here and is a unique way of celebrating this important day," said Abdulla Al Tassan, Director General of King Khalid International Airport.
On arrival Emirates and King Khalid International Airport held an airport reception for around 80 VIPs and media. Guests were then invited on a guided tour of the aircraft’s interior, gaining an appreciation for its incredible design and aesthetics.
“Since our first operation to Jeddah in 1989 we have worked closely with the Saudi Government to increase our services, now operating to four gateways across the Kingdom. Cementing our commitment to the country even further we have most recently signed a sponsorship deal with the Zain Saudi Professional League, a sponsorship that reaches the Saudi public through their innate love of football,” added Khoory.
With 15 A380s currently in its fleet, Emirates is the largest operator of the environmentally friendly double-decker aircraft, operating services from Dubai to London Heathrow (double-daily), Manchester, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Toronto, Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Jeddah, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland. Additional A380 destinations that have been announced include; Rome, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg and Munich.
Emirates currently operates to four cities within Saudi Arabia including; Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Al Medinah al Munawarah.