The sky was overcast and a stiffening breeze meant drizzle was never far away.

But the thousands of spectators gathered next to Glasgow Airport’s perimeter fence weren’t about to let a dreich Tuesday evening keep them away from the historic aviation event they had been waiting for.

And they were rewarded as the world’s largest commercial passenger plane, the iconic “super-jumbo” A380, touched down in the city.

The Emirates flight EK025 marks the first time the double-decker craft has arrived on a scheduled passenger service, with airport bosses investing around £8 million in infrastructure to ensure the airport is ready for regular trips between Glasgow and Dubai.

Among the improvements is Scotland’s only triple air bridge - ensuring that passengers disembark without descending to the ground.

And having three arms instead of two will allow passengers to board and disembark more efficiently.

Infrastructure to refuel the plane will also help the airline keep costly “ground time” down to a minimum.

As it taxied down the runway last night, a piper was on hand to greet the jet on the tarmac with a rendition of Flower of Scotland.

Mark Johnston, managing director of Glasgow Airport, described it as a “big day” for the travel hub.


He added: “We welcomed the A380 back in 2014 and it was on a one-off rotation but this is the start of a scheduled daily service.

“We’ve invested over £8m.

“We’ve increased the size of the pier, we’ve made changes on the airfield.

“This was a natural progression. Emirates started as a once a day service 15-years-ago, then went to twice a day and the aircraft size increased and now we’ve got the A380.

“We’ve been planning this moment since it first arrived in 2014. The project on the ground has been going on six months and our team has been fantastic.”

Mr Johnston added: “We knew we would get excitement but the staff and everyone around the airport has really enjoyed tonight.”

Standing over 24 metres high and with a wingspan of nearly 80 metres, the massive double-decker aircraft will have a three-class cabin configuration, offering 14 private suites in first class, 76 lie flat seats in business, and 399 seats in economy.

Jon Sheppard, head of commercial at Emirates, said: “We’re very excited because today marks the first time we’ve had a scheduled A380 flying into Scotland.

“It’s also timely because it was fifteen years last week since we launched to Glasgow to Dubai route.

“It seems like timing for us to bring it here and it’s great news for Scotland and it’s a great celebration of our partnership with Glasgow Airport.

“In that time we’ve carried 4.5 million passengers and beyond to 150 destinations.

“It’s an aircraft like no other.

“We have shower spas, on flight lounge,more than a thousand channels of entertainment and wifi. Wherever we take it - it’s well received.

“Our second runway in Dubai is being upgraded and we thought this would be a great time to bring the A380 into service in Glasgow.”

Although the arrival of the A380 yesterday marks a major new chapter in Glasgow Airport’s growth, the history of the aircraft itself appears to be drawing to a close.

Launched in 2007, the £400 million planes were intended to carry large numbers of passengers between major international hubs, with further flights on smaller planes taking them along “spokes” to their eventual destination.

Its capacity is around 550 passengers and it can operate over a range of up to 8,000 nautical miles.

However, the air industry is increasingly looking to use small, versatile aircraft to carry more customers directly to their destination and the A380 never achieved the expectations of manufacturer Airbus who had hoped to sell 700 of them.

In fact, just 313 had been ordered by January of this year, with Emirates operating more than 100 of those, with plans for a fleet of 162.

When its biggest customer cut that order by a quarter, the writing was on the wall and Airbus announced in February it would cease production by 2021.