On board Emirates flight that charted a course to history
Many Emiratis took inaugural Emirates flight to show support, says one of 133 passengers to fly to Karachi.
He remembers being so excited about the inaugural Emirates flight that he reached the airport a good four hours before it was scheduled to take off.
It was mid morning on October 25, 1985, and it was the day Emirates flight EK600 was due to take off on its inaugural flight at 11.45am from the Dubai International Airport to Karachi.
"I was young and enthusiastic then ... I took the flight just to support my country and the airline," Emirati national Abdulrahman M. Aqil Al Zarouni tells Khaleej Times exactly 30 years later.
Al Zarouni was among the 133 passengers who flew Emirates when it was just a fledging airline that the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) helped set up. "It was a lively flight and was full," he says, trying to recall the finer details. "I don't remember that much since I was too excited, and also because it was 30 years ago.
"There was a mix of nationalities but several Emiratis flew to Karachi and back again to Dubai on the same day just to support the airline and also for the reason that they were as excited as I was," Al Zarouni says.
Among them were dignitaries, including Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Emirates airline and Chief Executive of the Emirates Group. "When I heard that Dubai had its own airline, I thought I should be part of it ... I was so happy that I was the first to reach the airport and that too four hours before the flight," he says.
Emirates was conceived in March 1985 after Gulf Air began to cut back its services to Dubai. It was required to operate independent of government subsidies. Emirates leased a new Boeing 737-300 and an Airbus 300B4-200 from the PIA, according to Wikipedia.
"The flight took one and half hours ... Though some people came back on the same day, I stayed in Karachi for two days," says Al Zarouni, who currently works with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). "These were the best one and half hours of my life."
Al Zarouni also proudly displays a certificate given to him by Emirates for being among the first passengers on a commercial flight. "I am proud to be part of history and especially to be associated with an airline that has grown by leaps and bounds in just 30 years."
He says the airline tasted success due to the wise leadership. "If it was not for good management, the airline would not have been where it is now."
In a statement sent to Khaleej Times, a spokesperson for Emirates said, "The first flight was full. It was an Airbus A300 B4. First destination was Karachi ..."
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