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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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International service at airports continues its comeback

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With some international air travel returning to the beginnings of normalcy, one airline is bringing back the big guns for service to Washington Dulles International Airport.

Emirates will resume service using Airbus A380-800 aircraft to the Washington area on June 1, supplanting smaller Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that have been used for much of the pandemic era.

The switch will add 137 seats per flight and allow for more premium-cabin availability, officials of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said on May 18.

Dubai in recent years has morphed into both a destination unto itself and a central transit point for traffic from North America to Asia. Though not by standard aviation definition an ultra-long-haul trip, it is not for the faint of heart: Point-to-point travel times from Dulles are a little over 13 hours eastbound, 14 hours westbound.

The same day as the A380 returns, Ethiopian plans to launch three-times-per-week service between Dulles and Lomé, Togo, connecting on to Addis Ababa with Boeing 787-800 aircraft. The stop in Togo provides passengers with access to 24 additional destinations.

“We’re extremely excited – it’s another connection to Africa,” said Paul Bobson, the new vice president for airline business development at the Airports Authority.

Also that day, Iberia will launch its long-planned, four-times-per-week service between Dulles and Madrid. The inaugural had been slated for the spring of 2020 but was put on hold due to COVID.

Service will be on Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Dulles is benefiting from an increasing rebound in service to Africa, the Middle East and South America, the Airports Authority board was told on May 18. And there has been some improvement in travel to Europe – United Airlines on May 6 re-started daily seasonal service from Dulles to Athens, Barcelona, Edinburgh and Madrid.

The rebound, which has been ongoing for several months, represents “an extraordinary set of announcements, pronouncements and progress,” said Thorn Pozen, vice chair of the authority’s board of directors.

As for the future? “We continue to evaluate all potential opportunities with all airline partners,” Bobson said.

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