FORT LAUDERDALE -- Emirates flight 213 landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport at 10:37a.m. Thursday, marking the Dubai-based carrier's entry into South Florida.
The Boeing 777-200ULR was greeted at the gate by a water cannon salute after a scheduled flight of 14 hours and 20 minutes.
"It looks like Christmas has arrived 10 days early," airport CEO Mark Gale said at a ceremony to mark the arrival.
Emirates will now fly daily between Fort Lauderdale and Dubai. Fort Lauderdale is the popular Gulf carrier's 11th U.S. destination and second in Florida, joining Orlando.
Emirates' entry into Fort Lauderdale, Gale said, is a game changer for the airport, and will place Broward County just one-stopover away from Emirates' network of 153 other destinations in 83 countries.
Marion Valderrama, owner of Protea Travel Services in nearby Dania Beach, Fla., agreed. Booking trips to Africa, her agency's specialty, will be easier now, she said at the launch party.
For example, one-stop trips to Cape Town, South Africa, which until now have only been bookable on certain days of the week from Fort Lauderdale, will be available daily.
"It's very exciting because most of the connections have either been through Europe or on Delta via Atlanta or South African via JFK," she said.
Emirates' entry into Fort Lauderdale also marks the beginning of 32 new Emirates/JetBlue codeshare routes to U.S. domestic destinations.
In addition, the carriers are seeking regulatory approval to codeshare to the 13 destinations JetBlue serves in the Caribbean and the Americas, Emirates vice president of U.S. sales Matthias Schmid said in an interview.
Emirates' partnership with JetBlue is a primary reason the carrier chose Fort Lauderdale rather than Miami for its South Florida entry, Schmid said.