Middle-East airline Emirates has flown a special Airbus A380 superjumbo flight with almost 400 passengers on board, all of whom had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Flight EK2021 took off on Saturday, aimed at drawing attention to the success of the UAE's vaccination program and encouraging confidence in travel.
Along with the vaccinated passengers, all flight and ground crew were also vaccinated. The UAE has administered nearly 9 million vaccine doses thus far to its population of 9.7 million residents, the vast majority of whom are expatriates. The UAE has one of the world's highest rate of vaccinations at 90.22 doses per 100 people.
"Today's flight is a showcase of the combined efforts and dedication of all stakeholders in supporting the vaccination programme, and the implementation of protocols in the past 12 months to ensure a safe travel journey, stimulate passenger traffic and set the groundwork for the ramp up of air travel in the near future," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates' chairman said.
Passengers were able to check-in and board using contactless technology introduced last month, including biometric facial recognition and the ability to control the check-in kiosk from their mobile devices. They also received rapid COVID-19 tests.
Maggie and Simon Neil, who have lived in the UAE for 20 years, were among the passengers who paid Dh2000 ($A717) each for their business class seat on board.
"We hadn't been on a plane for over a year and we really wanted to be a part of it. We are both vaccinated which we believe is important for safe travels and to top that, our fare will go towards helping those in need," they told Dubai's Khaleej Times.
Proceeds from the flight went to the Emirates Airline Foundation, a non-profit charity that supports projects for disadvantaged children around the world.
The Emirates flight follows a similar trip by Qatar Airways last Tuesday, the world's first flight to carry a full-vaccinated complement of passengers and crew. The Qatar Airbus A350 took off from and returned to Doha's Hamad International Airport after a three-hour scenic flight.
Qatar Airways' chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline's special flight "demonstrates the next stage in the recovery of international travel is not far away."
Both Emirates and Qatar are trialling the International Air Transport Association's Travel Pass, which will allow airlines to confirm passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 or been vaccinated against the disease before they fly.
Qantas is trialling a similar vaccine passport app and also has plans to trial IATA's version.