Emirates has been forced to cancel a charter flight for Arsenal soccer club on one of its massive double-deck Airbus A380 superjumbos after a number of COVID-19 tests amongst the squad came back positive.
The nearly brand new Airbus A380 which was only delivered to Emirates in December 2020 had already arrived at Stansted Airport near London after a 5459 km flight from Dubai earlier on Tuesday when news of the COVID-19 cluster broke.
Arsenal had been due to fly to the United States aboard the 484 seater aircraft on Thursday where they were booked to take part in the Florida Cup as they prepare for the upcoming Premier League season.
The team were scheduled to challenge Serie A champions Inter Milan at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sunday (July 25) but Arsenal has had to pull out of the tournament after a number of tests taken on Monday and Tuesday came back positive.
All of the positive cases are believed to be asymptomatic.
The Airbus A380 (registration: A6-EVN) sported a large ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ decal on its fuselage as part of the UAE’s attempts to get more people to have the COVID-19 jab. The aircraft also operated one of the very first flights in the world to have only fully vaccinated passengers and crew onboard.
It had been due to fly the Arsenal team and a large entourage to Orlando International Airport on Thursday but that trip has now been cancelled.
Orlando airport had been preparing to welcome the A380 as a special guest and had been running a sweepstakes competition for a plane spotter tour of the airfield and a photo opportunity beside the superjumbo.
Emirates has a longstanding sponsorship deal with Arsenal which was renewed through to the end of the 2023-2024 season at the earliest. The club’s stadium in North London is named after the airline and will be named the Emirates Stadium until at least 2028.
Emirates’ branding has appeared on Arsenal’s shirts since 2006 in what is believed to be the longest-running shirt branding partnership in history.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.