EMIRATES is celebrating two decades of flying to and from Glasgow Airport. 

In the 20 years since its inaugural flight on April 10, 2004, the world's largest international airline has carried more than 5.62 million passengers on 18,990 roundtrip flights to and from Dubai. 

To mark the significant milestone Emirates flight EK027, served by its iconic A380, arrived today at Glasgow Airport’s stand 30, home to Scotland’s only triple airbridge, with a celebration of Highland dancers and a bagpiper.

The flight's pilot was Paisley-born First Officer Lewis Ferguson who used to work as airport security at Glasgow Airport. 

Since they began, Emirates operations from Glasgow have made a significant contribution to the local economy, facilitating inbound tourism and creating thousands of jobs, as well as transporting hundreds of tonnes of cargo each week. 

In 2023 alone, Emirates transported more than four million kgs of cargo via Glasgow Airport via its daily service. 

Richard Jewsbury, Emirates divisional vice president in the UK, said: "We’re proud to have served Scotland via Glasgow for more than 20 years, connecting millions of passengers and facilitating valuable trade across our global network.

"We have seen significant growth over the last two decades and forward bookings for this route were up 51% year-on-year in 2024.

"We’d like to sincerely thank all our stakeholders including the local community, customers, businesses, suppliers, ground handlers, the Scottish Government, local authorities, Glasgow Airport and travel agents for their unwavering support over the past two decades as we reach this milestone.

"Glasgow remains a key market from both passenger and cargo perspectives and is a hugely popular destination for our passengers around the world.

"We look forward to continuing to provide our best-in-class services and greater connectivity to Scotland."

Ronald Leitch, interim chief operations officer at AGS Airports, added: "The Glasgow Dubai service has been a resounding success story for Glasgow and the wider region.

"It was Scotland’s first route to the Middle East and remains the country’s only direct service to Dubai.

"Both airport and airline have celebrated so many milestones during the last two decades, such as the opening of the stunning Emirates’ lounge in 2014, the first visit of the A380 that same year and then the introduction of the world’s largest passenger aircraft into daily service in 2019 and again last year.

"Despite being a daily occurrence, the arrival and departure of Scotland’s only A380 service still captures the imagination of passengers, the public and our airport colleagues.  

"I remember vividly the first Emirates’ flight coming in to land all those years ago.

"In the ensuing years, this service has been instrumental in connecting Scotland’s leisure and business travellers through the world’s busiest international airport in Dubai. Equally, the service also plays a significant role in ensuring hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Scotland’s finest goods are exported globally each year.

"To mark 20 years of this hugely important service at Glasgow Airport is a tremendous honour and achievement for Scotland."

Here are 20 facts to celebrate 20 years of Emirates flying from Glasgow Airport... 

  1. Over the last 20 years, more than 5.62m passengers have flown from Glasgow Airport on 18,990 roundtrip flights. 
  2. Dubai is the only long-haul eastbound destination currently available from Glasgow, making Emirates' once-daily service to Dubai an essential route for connecting Scots with around 75 end destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
  3. With a cruising altitude of 43,100ft, the A380 flies at more than 103 times the height of Scotland's tallest freestanding building, Glasgow Tower. 
  4. The A380's wingspan is 79.8 metres - on its side it would be more than twice the height of Glasgow Cathedral. 
  5. Emirates has a number of long-standing employees based at Glasgow Airport. In fact, three members of staff are also celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, having joined the team on March 15, 2004. 
  6. When Glasgow Airport originally welcomed the Emirates A380 on a scheduled service in 2019, it became the first A380 to form part of a scheduled service anywhere in Scotland. 
  7. Ahead of the inaugural A380 flight in 2019, Glasgow Airport overhauled its runway and docking station to accommodate the aircraft which can weigh up to 575 tonnes. 
  8. From the 17 members of staff currently working across sales, cargo, airport and lounge departments, the Emirates team at Glasgow boasts an impressive 135.1 years of service, with an average tenure of 7.94 years. Emirates also employs Scottish nationals - including cabin crew and pilots - as part of the group’s 100,000-strong global workforce.
  9. There are 24 Emirates cabin crew on every A380 flight, which means over the next six months alone, 4320 crew will be flying from Glasgow to Dubai to serve guests.
  10. The pilot of the 20th anniversary flight today is First Officer Lewis Ferguson, who actually worked his way up from airport security at Glasgow Airport to flying the Emirates A380!
  11. With plenty of destinations to choose from across Emirates’ expansive global network, Dubai, Bangkok, Lahore, Singapore, Australia, India, Thailand, New Zealand and South Africa have proven to be some of the most popular end destinations for Glaswegians.
  12. For inbound tourism, travel demand on the Dubai to Glasgow route continues to grow, with forward bookings up by 51% year-on-year in 2024. Glasgow is also seeing soaring demand for outbound travel, with travel out of Glasgow up 66% this year.
  13. With inbound demand on the up, Glasgow proves to be a popular choice across the board. However, Dubai and Australia come out on top as the most popular origin destinations for people booking flights to Glasgow.
  14. In 2022, 3.2m visits were made by international visitors to Scotland, resulting in 29.7m nights and a total spend of £3.15 billion. The average international visitor to Scotland spent a total of £972 over a 9.2-day trip, with a daily expenditure of £109. (Source: VisitScotland)
  15. October is the most popular month to fly out of Glasgow, coinciding with Scots searching for sun for their autumn half-term getaways. July, however, is the most popular month to fly into Glasgow.
  16. The A380 doesn’t just carry passengers – Emirates SkyCargo carries a host of items for export too. In fact, in 2023 alone Emirates transported 4,042,125kgs of cargo via Glasgow Airport.
  17. Among the cargo that Emirates handles are quintessential Scottish products like whisky and salmon. The most popular destinations for Scottish salmon, shellfish and oysters include China and Hong Kong, while whisky is most often exported to South Africa, Singapore, Sydney and Korea.

  18. Beyond everyday cargo goods, Emirates has played its part in transporting some other noteworthy items. Emirates has transported penguins from Edinburgh Zoo, an Aston Martin car, and even historic memorabilia of Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer.

  19. Emirates operates a large lounge at Glasgow Airport, which was opened in 2014, and offers chauffeur drive services for premium passengers.