THE world’s largest passenger plane could fly from Scotland for the first time under Emirates airline’s plans to further expand its booming Glasgow-Dubai route.
The double-deck Airbus A380 superjumbo, which carries 517 passengers, had been considered by experts as too large for the Scottish market.
However, Emirates said yesterday the giant aircraft was an option to develop the link over the next three to four years as it becomes increasingly popular among Scots as a one-stop route to Asia and Australia.
An alternative would be to add a third daily flight. Emirates launched a second daily flight from Glasgow last summer.
The news is likely to put further pressure on Edinburgh airport’s quest for a Middle East link after failing to secure one before Emirates strengthened its hold on the Scottish market with last year’s expansion.
The A380 has nearly 50 per cent more seats than the 360 aboard the Emirates’ Boeing 700-300 ER on the Glasgow route.
Emirates vice-president UK Laurie Berryman said: “It changes travel patterns – people go out of their way to travel in it. The aircraft is very quiet, feels less enclosed and has more space.”
The cabin is two-and-a-half feet wider than the Boeing 777.
Mr Berryman said Glasgow airport would require some upgrading to cope with the aircraft, such as to taxiways between the runway and terminal.
Extra air bridges would also be needed for passengers to embark and disembark.
Aviation analysts said bringing an A380 to Scotland would be an ambitious move.
Laurie Price, a consultant with Mott MacDonald and its former head of aviation strategy, said: “They have to deploy the large fleet of A380s they have ordered somewhere, but I would have thought there were other larger and higher-yield markets that would justify A380 deployment before Glasgow.”
John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said the move could make sense if other airlines cut back on Scottish flights that fed into their long-haul hubs, such as Heathrow.
He said: “It would be a big chunk of capacity to fill but, on the other hand, they could cut back to a once-daily frequency. More positively, the economy could be growing again by then and they will factor in other hypotheses on feeder capacity changes by other hub carriers, not least into London.
“Were this capacity to reduce, then the A380 could be a winner in the Scottish market.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow airport said: “Any decision by Emirates to increase capacity on the route would be greatly received and we would work closely with the airline to look at ways to enhance facilities.”