PICTURES: Emirates A380 makes Gatwick appearance

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Emirates will take delivery of 17 Airbus A380s in its financial year beginning 1 April leading to a fleet of 48 of the double-deck type by this time next year.

Laurie Berryman, vice-president UK & Ireland for the Gulf carrier, speaking at Gatwick airport on 26 March ahead of the arrival of a one-off A380 service, says the super jumbo is "key to its operations".

 credit - flightglobal

 Flightglobal

Emirates has confined regular scheduled A380 operations in the UK to Heathrow - where it runs a five-times daily service - and Manchester, where it runs a single daily flight.

Gatwick is served using the Boeing 777-300ER, but with its three daily flights showing a load factor of 88%, Berryman believes the route is dense enough to support regular A380 operations. He would not be drawn on a timeframe to launch the service but stresses it will be a case of "if not when".

 credit - flightglobal

 Flightglobal

The A380 flight touched down at 12:15 local time, departing around two hours later and "was almost full", notes Berryman.

"We can't commit our service to this airport yet, but hopefully it won't be too long away," he adds.

 credit - flightglobal

 Flightglobal

Gatwick has recently completed a £6.4 million ($9.7 million) extension to stand 110 at its North Terminal to allow pier-served access for the type. Design services were provided by consultancy Atkins and construction was led by Vinci.