Emirates is to become the first airline to operate the ultra-long range Airbus A340-500, beginning a new era in air travel, following the delivery of the aircraft today.

With the longest range of any airliner, the A340-500 allows the opening up of new non-stop routes – such as from Dubai to Australia or North America – making journeys shorter, more convenient and more comfortable for passengers.

Emirates’ A340-500s seat 12 in first-class suites, 42 in business class and 204 in economy – with every passenger in the premium cabins benefiting from preferred aisle or window seats. Each aircraft is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 500s.

"Our A340-500s will be able to easily fly from Dubai to New Zealand or the US West Coast," says Emirates Chairman His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum. "Quite simply, they will help to make Dubai the new 21st Century world airline hub, re-drawing the route map thanks to their key customer benefit – swift and comfortable non-stop services."

"This remarkable aircraft will be a world first in so many, many ways. We are totally re-inventing long-haul travel, so our passengers can enjoy everything they expect to find in first class – and much, much more," he adds.

Emirates is the largest customer in the world for the Airbus A330/A340 family, having ordered 54 aircraft that include A330-200s, A340-500s and A340-600s. It is also the largest customer for the new double-deck Airbus A380, of which it has ordered 43.

"Emirates has established itself as a leader and a trend-setter in many ways, so we are delighted that it has chosen the Airbus A340-500/600 family to spearhead its expansion into the new era of ultra-long haul routes," says Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard.

The Airbus A330/A340 family is the market leader in the 250-375 seat class, having won over 800 orders from more than 60 customers. It is the family that passengers prefer to travel in on long haul flights, consistently emerging top in independent passenger surveys.

With four engines for the best economy on ultra-long-haul routes, Airbus A340s enjoy unmatched operational flexibility on non-stop flights over remote areas – such as oceans, mountain ranges and the polar regions.

Airbus’ modern family also features extensive cockpit commonality, allowing airlines that fly more than one type to benefit from valuable savings in training costs, as well as unprecedented freedom in scheduling flights and operating them.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.