Today in Sydney Emirates launched its first Airbus A380 service to Australia.
The A380, which is currently the world's largest commercial passenger aircraft, will fly between Dubai and Auckland via Sydney three times a week.
Emirates expects that visitors from the Middle East and north Africa to Australia will grow by eight per cent in 2009, despite World Tourism Organisation predictions that international tourism will drop by up to two per cent because of the global financial crisis.
"The growth in Emirates’ seat capacity by over 40 per cent [using the A380] is expected to encourage above-average growth of visitor arrivals", said Emirates' Richard Vaughn.
With 14 private suites featuring 23in LCD screens, two onboard showers and a private social lounge for first- and business-class passengers, Emirates is describing its A380 as a "premium hotel in the sky" and hopes it will convince travellers to splurge on more expensive tickets.
Using a custom version of the Panasonic Avionics eX2 in-flight entertainment package known as "ice" (information communications entertainment), the A380 provides passengers with more than 700 audio channels, 100 TV channels and 190 movies, as well as USB ports for passengers wanting to view images from thumb drives on their personal screens.