Former Christchurch man lands first Airbus A380 flight at his hometown

Former Christchurch man lands first Airbus A380 flight at his hometown

Hundreds of onlookers and aviation enthusiasts have gathered at Christchurch International airport to witness the first arrival of an Emirates A380 direct service.

But it had more meaning for the family of Shane Russell who was the pilot for the first flight into the garden city on Monday afternoon.

The former Linwood College pupil and Christchurch resident told his family two weeks ago that he'd be the one piloting the flight.

His brother Peter Russell said it was a special time for the family.

"It's very memorable and it's going to stay with me and the family for a long time," he says.

"Just very proud of my brother."

Mr Russell says he has a ritual that determines whether things are going to go well or not by cooking eggs in the morning.

"If the egg is cooked well, he's going to land his plane well. I know it's an odd thing to say."

When asked how his egg was cooked in the morning he said, "It turned out perfectly." 

Captain Russell's mother, Lynne Sitarz said there was nowhere else she was going to be when her son was going to land the plane.

"Absolutely not, whatever else we had on can wait for another day. It's a very, very special moment," she says.

She said the last time they spoke she gave him a bit of cheek about flying into his hometown.

"We just pulled his leg about it and hoped he parked it properly," she says.

"[But] he was very excited and proud to be doing it too."

Emirates Airlines, based out of Dubai, will fly into the garden city via Sydney on a daily schedule using one of the world's biggest and most versatile commercial aircraft.

Currently only Emirates and Singapore Airlines fly A380s into Auckland.

Christchurch Airport is seeing record international visitor arrival growth and the daily schedule using A380s will help to grow this further.

The number of long-haul international visitors at the airport last financial year grew 15 percent year-on-year.

Holiday arrivals from Australia are now also growing strongly, with an18 percent increase in July being the highest of any New Zealand airport.