EMIRATES airlines last week introduced a Boeing 777-300ER on its Dubai-Lusaka-Harare daily service as part of commemorations to mark its first anniversary since the establishment of the route in February last year.
The plane is the longest passenger aircraft ever to touch down in Harare and replaces the 237-seat Airbus A330-200 resulting in an increase in capacity of more than 50 per- cent.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe finance director Mr Joel Masuku, along with CAAZ representatives, had the opportunity to view the 354-seat aircraft when it touched down in Harare on Friday.
The inaugural Boeing flight was marked with special economy class fares starting from just US$962 to Dubai, US$1190 for those flying from Lusaka to London and US$1 100 for those destined for Hong Kong.
The discounted fares are available until February 15, for travel between February 1 and June 10, 2013.
Emirates senior vice president of commercial operations for Africa Mr Jean Luc Grillet said that the introduction of a bigger plane on the Harare-Lusaka-Dubai route was in response an increase in business volumes.
"Introducing the Boeing 777-300ER on the Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route, just a year after we launched our service to Zambia and Zimbabwe, reflects the phenomenal growth we have seen in these markets and demonstrates Emirates' commitment for the long haul," he said.
The aircraft upgrade adds more than 1 600 seats a week on Emirates' Lusaka and Harare routes.
The Boeing 777-300ER is the backbone of the Emirates fleet, with 83 in service and a further 68 on order.
The new plane has a three-class configuration offering eight luxurious first class seats, 42 seats in business class and generous space for 304 passengers in economy class, providing an additional 50 percent capacity, or 117 extra seats per flight.
The arrival of the larger aircraft meant an increase in cargo carrying capacity of some 22 percent to more than 18 000kg per flight.
Throughout the aircraft, passengers will be able to experience the airline's award-winning Ice in-flight entertainment system with a choice of over 1 400 channels on demand as well as meals prepared by gourmet chefs.
EK 713 departs Dubai every day at 9:25am, arriving in Lusaka at 2:50pm. The service departs Lusaka at 4:20am, arriving in Harare at 5:20am.
The return flight leaves Harare at 6:50pm, arriving Lusaka at 7:50pm. It departs Lusaka at 9:20pm and lands in Dubai at 6:50am the next day. Emirates' fleet is one of the youngest in the skies, with an average age of 77 months.