Today in Aviation: Three Historic First Flights

Today, we celebrate Japan Airlines' first post-war domestic service, Emirates' first revenue flight, and Singapore Airlines' inaugural A380 flight.



October 25, 2023

DALLAS — Today in Aviation, we celebrate Japan Airlines' (JL) first post-war domestic service, Emirates' (EK) first revenue flight, and Singapore Airlines' (SQ) inaugural A380 flight.

We take a closer look at these three maiden flights that took place today in 1951, 1985, and 2007, respectively, and the airlines that made them possible.

Northwest Airlines Martin 2-0-2. Photo: Bill Larkins - Martin202NW93060, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Japan Airlines' Post-War Expansion

In 1951, Japan's first postwar domestic airline service was inaugurated, using a Martin 2-0-2 aircraft, named Mokusei, and Crew leased from Northwest Airlines (NW). Under the name Japan Airlines, the carrier had already conducted invitational flights on a Douglas DC-3 Kinsei, leased from Philippine Airlines (PR), between August 27 and 29.

The airline was created on August 1, 1951, as the Japanese government recognized the need for a reliable air transport system to help the country expand in the wake of the Second World War. The airline was formed with an initial capital of ¥100m and was headquartered in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo.

On August 1, 1953, the National Diet passed the Japan Air Lines Company Act, creating a new state-owned JL, which inherited all of its private predecessor's assets and liabilities. By 1953, from Tokyo to Sapporo and Misawa, and westward to Nagoya, Osaka, Iwakuni, and Fukuoka, the JL network expanded northwards.

On February 2, 1954, the airline began international flights, carrying 18 passengers from Tokyo to San Francisco via Wake Island and Honolulu on a Douglas DC-6B City of Tokyo. Flights between Tokyo and San Francisco are still Flights 1 and 2.

The airline conducts domestic and international passenger and cargo flights through five consolidated subsidiaries and one affiliated company.

One of the first Emirates Airlines Airbus A300. Photo: Aldo Bidini , GFDL 1.2

Emirates Airlines Becomes a Global Carrier

In 1985, EK operated its first revenue flight from Dubai to Karachi using an Airbus A300 leased from Pakistan International Airlines (PK). Emirates was established in 1985 by the Royal Family of Dubai as the third largest airline in the world as per scheduled passenger revenue kilometers flown and the number of foreign passengers transported.

Emirates was one of the world's fastest-growing airlines at the beginning of the 1990s; revenue grew by approximately US$100m per year, reaching US$500m in 1993. In the same year, the carrier carried 1.6 million passengers and 68,000 tons of freight.

The airline began using its new Airbus A340-500 to fly non-stop to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in 2004. These flights culminated in the resumption of non-stop air services between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, following the withdrawal of flights by Delta Air Lines (DL) in 2001.

Ultimately, the biggest operator of the A380 would turn out to be EK, with the 100th A380 entering its fleet in November 2017. It was announced on January 18, 2018, that Emirates had put in an order for 20 A380s with options for 16 more. Deliveries of this type were set to begin in 2020.

In 2022, EK resumed its A380 Dubai-Perth service, marking a year of airlines announcing plans to reactivate their decommissioned Superjumbo fleets. Only time will tell if the A380 found a new lease of life in a post-pandemic world.

Singapore Airlines A380 (9V-SKA). Photo: Chris Sloan/The Airchive

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Inaugural Flight

In 2007, the first A380 Superjumbo aircraft, MSN003 (9V-SKA), was delivered to Singapore's flag carrier on October 15, and entered service on this day with flight number SQ380, flying between Singapore and Sydney. The maiden flight included 455 passengers and a crew of 30, including pilots. The entire flight lasted seven hours.

Passengers bought seats in a charity online auction, paying between US$560 and US$100,380. As we all know, the double-decker aircraft is as tall as a seven-story building, has a wingspan nearly the length of a football field, and can accommodate 853 passengers in an all-economy class.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 maiden flight. Photo: Chris Sloan/The Airchive

Singapore Airlines unveiled its new cabin interior the week before the flight. It featured 471 seats in three classes: 12 Singapore Airlines Suites (complete with the first full-size standalone bed, a flat-screen TV, and laptop connections); 60 seats in the business class (which have been converted into large flatbeds and also have a seat-holder bar area); and 399 seats in the economy class.

The maiden A380 flight was powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, which contributed significantly to the environmental friendliness of the type. As such, the A380 sets new environmental standards for air transport. According to the company's website, the A380 had an unmatched fuel consumption of fewer than three liters per passenger per 100 km.

Airways' Chris Sloan was one of the few lucky people to be on board the first Airbus A380 inaugural flight, SQ380.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 maiden flight. Photo: Chris Sloan/The Airchive

On September 23, 2020, the final Airbus A380, to be delivered to EK, rolled out of Hangar 40 in Toulouse, Airbus' A380 Assembly line.

As an end note, SQ offered a unique way to give the public a glimpse of what it is like to dine on its A380. Stationed at Changi Airport's (SIN) Terminal 3, two of the SQ's A380s hosted about 400 people in the Restaurant@A380 experience.

Featured image: Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 maiden flight. Photo: Chris Sloan/The Airchive. Article sources:,,