There is a new sight in the skies above Tyne and Wear as the longest aircraft ever to operate from Newcastle begins flying the daily Emirates route to Dubai.
On the fifth anniversary of the route's launch, Emirates has upgraded its Airbus A330 to a Boeing 777, increasing seat capacity on every flight from 278 seats to 428.
The switch means an extra 2,000 seats a week, increasing capacity by 50 percent.
Since the service was launched in September 2007, almost 700,000 passengers have travelled with Emirates to and from the North East, 175,000 of them from overseas.
The introduction of the Boeing 777 is expected to attract more visitors to the region, as well as boosting business and export links with the Middle East and beyond.
After watching the aircraft fly into Newcastle for the first time on Saturday, airport Chief Executive Dave Laws said: "Despite challenging economic times, the daily service to Dubai has flourished.
"The growth of this global brand at the airport will bring employment opportunities and increased cargo carrying capabilities. This in turn will bring economic benefit, trade and investment to the region.
“It’s very much a sign of confidence in both the North East and in the airport.
"Delivering access to Dubai and beyond onto a global network has had an incredibly positive impact on the business community.
"Since Emirates began operating from Newcastle Airport, trade from the North East to Australasia has increased by more than 65 percent."
Since 2007, Emirates has carried more than 10 million kilos of cargo on its Newcastle service, including oil rig equipment, car parts and pharmaceuticals. The 777 will allow a 22 percent increase in cargo capacity to over 16,000 kilos per flight.
Emirates UK Vice President Laurie Berryman said: "Our Newcastle service has come of age and with demand continuing to increase, this is the right time for Emirates to be expanding its capacity from the North East.
“With the introduction of this larger aircraft, we will offer almost 6,000 seats every week to and from Newcastle."
Emirates’ top destinations for North East travellers include Dubai, Bangkok, Sydney, Perth, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mauritius.
The Boeing 777-300ER is the backbone of the Emirates fleet, with 65 in service and a further 86 on order.
The airline will offer a two-class configuration with a choice of 42 lie-flat beds in Business Class and 386 seats in Economy Class.
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