The surprising fact why Emirates has EK as the official flight code. This has something to do with Karachi!

The IATA (International Air Transport Association) Code for Emirates is EK. This means all international and domestic flights of Emirates are identified by the EK code.

Emirates to resume flights to Clark from 1 August, further expanding its Far East networkEmirates is one of the most well-known airlines all over the world.

It operates in more than 150 cities in 80 countries and across 6 continents via its fleet of around 300 aircraft.

Emirates is the world’s fourth-largest airline by passenger kilometers flown, and the second-largest in terms of freight tonne kilometers flown.

The IATA (International Air Transport Association) Code for Emirates is EK. This means all international and domestic flights of Emirates are identified by the EK code.

For example, flying from Paris, Emirates flight EK 74 is expected to reach Dubai tomorrow (Saturday) at 12:15 am local time.

An Emirates ticket of Flight EK384 flying from Bangkok to Hong Kong.

Now, you might be wondering, where did the EK code originate from? It doesn’t seem like an abbreviation of the word “Emirates”, where the code might have been EM or ER.

Well, the real root of EK might shock you.

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The EK of Emirates stands for “Emirates through Karachi” as the first-ever flight of Emirates was from Dubai to Karachi in 1985.

Certainly, you heard it right!

In the early 1980s, Dubai’s royal family aimed to launch an Emirati airline for the first time and so they took two aircraft from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on a wet-lease.

The Pakistani national carrier provided training facilities to the new Emirati airline’s cabin crew at its academy.

Moreover, the new airline was to be initially flown by Pakistani pilots.

Due to Pakistan’s huge involvement in bringing the new airline to its feet, it was obvious that the first destination of Emirates would be somewhere in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, Karachi was not only considered a domestic aviation hub but also one with an international reputation.

So, the first flight of the new airline, Emirates, was to be flown from Dubai to Karachi.


On the 25th of October, 1985, the first-ever flight of Emirates (EK600)consisting of 30 royal dignitaries and VIPs from across the UAE, took off from Dubai for Karachi. Thus, Emirates Airlines was born.

The boarding passes of the first-ever flight of Emirates.

Two other Emirates aircraft, heading for Mumbai (EK500) and Dehli (EK700) later took off that day. However, they both bore the original insignia of the first flight, i.e., EK (Emirates through Karachi).

So, the next time you grab an Emirates ticket, frustrated, to leave Pakistan for good as you find ‘no opportunities’ in the country, just take out a moment to look at your ticket and reflect.

We had the potential to do great things, and we did. We still have the potential, yet we don’t utilize it now.

As someone said, “dekhte dekhte, kya se kya hogya.”

What are your views on this? Share with me in the comments below.

  • I always thought the K came from the Arabic for Airlines, al khutut al jawiya…الخطوط الجوية

  • And now even PIA doesnt give a shit about Karachi, and have moved their base to Islamabad.

  • It’s still a proud moment for us , but sadly we are very fast in ruining ourselves. Allah Swt save us all Aameen


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