Chinese Premier arrives with largest commercial jet to ever land in Dublin


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Dublin Airport welcomed the arrival of the largest commercial jet it has seen to date as Chinese Premier Li Qiang touched down on an Air China Boeing 747-8 on Tuesday. The Boeing 747-8 aircraft boasts a length of 76 metres and a wingspan of 68 metres.

“This will be the biggest commercial aircraft to ever land at Dublin Airport and will join the long list of landmark moments in the long history of the airport, which this week celebrates its 84th birthday,” said Greamme McQueen, the media relations manager at DAA.

The Boeing 747-8 flew the Chinese premier for a two-day visit to Ireland, where he was scheduled to meet with the country’s President at his residence on Wednesday morning. Premier Li will then meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during lunch in the city.

“The team at Dublin Airport is looking forward to welcoming Premier Li, his delegation, and all of the passengers on board the 747-8 on Tuesday evening,” said McQueen.

Upon his arrival, Premier Li was welcomed by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan. Premier Li himself is the second-highest-ranking incumbent official in China’s political system.

Appointed to parliament last year, he previously served as the Communist Party leader of Shanghai, the country’s largest city. This visit marks the first time since 2015 that a high-ranking Chinese official has come to Ireland.

The airport’s management shared the arrival of the Chinese premier’s flight on X, saying that the plane’s touchdown was a “very special moment” for the Dublin Airport.

Aviation enthusiasts flock Dublin Airport

Esther Rowley, a resident of Dublin who enjoys plane spotting, told The Journal that she had planned to go to the airport to witness the plane’s landing. “The 747 is such an iconic aircraft. We don’t get to see many of them these days, so to get a 747-8 version of it is just spoiling us,” she said.

Previously, the biggest commercial plane to ever land at Dublin Airport was the Boeing 747-400, which is 71 metres long with a wingspan of 64 metres. However, the largest aircraft of any kind to ever touch down at Dublin Airport was the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, a military plane that landed at the airport in 2019.

Esther shared that many aviation enthusiasts travel to various airports just to see these planes. She added that the Boeing 747 is an aircraft that captures anyone’s attention, even those not typically interested in planes.

Esther pointed out that although Dublin Airport doesn’t experience as many unusual landings as before, enthusiasts still enjoy occasional surprises. “It makes this one more special. Probably the most exciting ones in recent years have been Air Force One, an Ilyushin Il-96, and an Ilyushin Il-76,” she said.

Another aviation enthusiast from Dublin, Aoife Kiernan, expressed his excitement for the Boeing 747-8 arrival. “It’s a big, exciting airplane, and it has four engines, which is something rare these days. It’s the most modern iteration of the B747 Jumbo, which became a household name. It’s also a Chinese government aircraft with an interesting livery,” said Kiernan.

Kiernan mentioned that the Dublin Airport occasionally welcomes interesting aircraft. “There are some nice aircraft scheduled in like the B767 & the A350, and some airlines with nice liveries like Icelandair. It will be cool to see JetBlue come to Dublin this summer,” she said.

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