Airport a premium hub
YOU walk up to a Qantas regional airport counter anywhere in Queensland or northern New South Wales and the booking clerk greets you with the following words.
"I see you are flying to Prague, here are all your tickets, your bags are checked all the way through, enjoy your flights with Qantas and Emirate Airlines. By the way you'll be pleased to know you will be flying from Brisbane to Dubai aboard the world's best airliner, the A380."
Last week's arrival of the first Emirates A380 into Brisbane was a big occasion.
Its touchdown delivered airline travellers throughout our regions with a premier international travel service previously only offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
It was no wonder that executives from Brisbane airport, state politicians and Brisbane council officials were toasting the A380's arrival with champagne at 6am in the morning. Hundreds also packed vantage points to see the $400 million-plus superliner glide gently onto the tarmac.
If you are not a plane devotee you may well be asking what is so special about an A380 that's set it above the rest and why did this event cause such a fuss?
Firstly let's chat about the plane. I was fortunate enough to get a quick taste of her luxury when Emirates invited a press entourage to fly aboard Brisbane's first A380 to its next stop of Auckland.
"Auckland for lunch, why not?" was how one of the invited few labelled it as he raised yet another glass of Moet to toast the one-day return trip.
The A380 that arrived in Brisbane was just one week old, a brand new baby for Emirates and one of about 90 they will eventually own. They have even built an A380 specific terminal for this fleet in Dubai.
It's super quiet, so smooth you feel like you are onboard a cruise liner rather than a plane and its seating makes the 747 look like you are flying in an interstate bus in comparison. For Brisbane, the A380 will mean almost 200,000 extra visitors arriving each year and that in turn will boost tourism spend by about $23 million.
Emirates Australia executive, Bryan Banston, says the A380's arrival in Brisbane has taken away every reason for travellers not to fly out of Queensland.
"It is not just the fact that we will be bringing in extra passengers into Brisbane, this airport has now arrived as a premium international destination," he said.
It is a recognised fact that long haul passengers are seeking A380 seats, rather than just looking for the cheapest ticket.
Having experienced the best I understand why; after all who wants to sit cramped up in the school bus for eight hours when a luxury coach is available? The flow-on benefits will also boost accommodation numbers in Brisbane city. Benefits to venues and shops throughout the CBD will also come.
It may have seemed like just a new plane was landing, but it was really the launch of Brisbane as a complete international destination.
The airport even has a new Emirates lounge situated so passengers can board direct from the lounge straight onto the plane.
*The writer was a guest of Emirates for the return flight to Auckland.