This model is one produced primarily for the Emirates shop at Dubai airport and is packaged accordingly in the full open window Emirates box with Gemini branding only on the rear. It has the official Emirates holographic licensed product tag AA241705 on the back of the box.
Freighters operate from Dubai World Central (DWC) not DXB, which handles only belly freight on passenger aircraft. Emirates operates a bonded trucking facility (effectively meaning that goods from one airport to the other don’t cross a customs line and are merely transshipped), to get goods from one site to another.
Combined with the passenger airline, ESK is the largest general cargo operator in the world. It has extensive dry, refrigerated and pharmaceutical grade facilities and can pretty much deal with anything. Pharma is not something all airlines are prepared to ship as it often requires highly specialised handling.
The 15 freighters the airline operates represent almost 15% of Emirates corporate income, each aircraft is considerably more profitable per unit than even a full, full-fare paying A380.
ESK still flies one 744F, operated by ASL (formerly TNT, it was sold off to ASL when FedEx took over TNT Express as part of getting EU permission for the buyout), reduced from two. You can find a review of the withdrawn one OO-THC here: Emirates Sky Cargo 744F. You can also find the Gemini 777F review from 2014 here: Emirates 777F A6-EFF Gemini Jets GJUAE1286 2014
The second 744F is due to be withdrawn later this year, as Middle Eastern cargo trade has been damaged by weak pricing, caused by over capacity and the blockade of Qatar.
The livery on the Valentines Day 2017 special was designed to highlight the $2 billion a year fresh flower market that pretty much depends on air freight for survival. Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel, Colombia, Ecuador and Malaysia are a prime source of cut flowers on the global markets. The Netherlands tops the list exporting 52% of the worlds cut flowers, with the global market run from Amsterdam. Fresh flowers have a remarkably short life, and have to be cut, bunched, packed, stored and delivered to the end-user within 24-36 hours to remain viable, in specially adapted containers with self-watering, and temperature controlled covers to sustain long haul flights.
A6-EFL was delivered in September 2013 and is leased for ten years from DAE Capital. She was line number 1138 and carries MSN 42230.
- At the time of purchase including sales tax of 21% this was €37.15 which equalled £33.84 or USD $43.63.
- Gemini List price: (no tax) $53.95
- Typical US retail (no tax) $43.95
- UK List price: £51.04 – typically discounted to around £43.90 with tax on major websites (but some have it down to £39.95).
- £43.90 is equal to €48.18 or $56.59.
- What does it mean? Even AFTER DISCOUNT, the model was £10.05 ($13US) more expensive in the UK than in Europe or the US, nothing to do with Brexit or currency fluctuations in any way!
- Solution for UK buyers – buy in Europe at sites like aviationmegastore.com and get yourself a multi-currency account from British bank Revolut.com, you can use it in any main currency anytime, anywhere.
Nobody wants to undermine UK business, but nor do we want to be ripped off!
This is one of Gemini’s geriatric moulds – it’s got to be ten years old or more, but with three aerials up top, two at the rear one roughly forward of centre.
The real thing has at least three underneath as well, but not one of those is shown.
The good thing is that the “with love” rose and lettering are all really well done and don’t appear to be transfers, but they do have a colour problem I’ll come back to later.
Technical and other details such as cargo doors and so on, seem to be good quality and well printed.
The huge Emirates logo, white on red underneath, looks fine, even if it is split up by mould break lines.
2.Wings and landing gear
Cradle mould wings – really we could do with ditching these now surely? However they fit OK-ish; though they still have a slight mismatch at the front left and there’s a 0.5mm gap in the rear section, which is pretty much as good as these can get. They do fit reasonably tightly against the fuselage on the right but not so much on the left and you can see through to the other side. I hate that, it’s just crappy mouldings, typical second rate Gemini.
The upper wing surface paint is a good silk finish, which keeps the colour and yet allows detail to remain visible.
Landing gear wheels are OK, the clasping that holds the axels in is not brilliant, tyres are good, and lump free. However the right side bogie tilts way more than the left side, and far more easily. Paint is reasonable and tidy on the gear, and the nose gear appears to be good.
The large General Electric units are extremely good. Everything is where it should be and produced to a high quality. The rims are a realistic light aluminium but the fans match it and look a bit unrealistic, despite being a good mould.
Sensors are clear and correctly scaled, the windows look great around the cockpit, the silver frames don’t even look too much.
Really very good and no complaints.
OK. The paint of the UAE flag colours is a little feathery at the edges, but passable.
It happens a lot with models, and it’s no excuse, but that big red rose is just a bit too dark, despite its rich detail. The leaves are also completely the wrong colour. The real thing makes them look natural, almost slightly yellowed. The models are vivid green and have lost a little definition.
7.Score and conclusion
- -8 for the colour issues – they could have been better and bear in mind the price of this model, I expect it.
- -3 for the landing gear solidity and gaps in the clasping; it’s not a big deal, but again this an old mould and its not exactly the first time they’ve made one is it? One expects better for premium prices!
- -5 for the mould issues on the cradle, again, it’s simply not good enough at these prices. This mould is old and haggerd and just unacceptable in 2017.
It’s a typical Gemini score, commercially acceptable but no real effort. Just a stock model built on contract. Good enough not to annoy Emirates and the ‘average’ Joe Public who buys them.
It’s not too often we get a really nice special livery on a cargo aircraft, and that’s why I bought it. I’m not in love with it though and I’m two minds as to wether to keep it or not.
I know some people rave over Emirates, something I’ve never been able to do, I just don’t see them as particularly magical, but in cargo terms its amusing for a few seconds, it’s OK. It just isn’t especially inspiring. Rather sums up Gemini in general these days.
Under no circumstances is this model worth its price.
My recommendation: An entirely ordinary and unremarkable model from Gemini, if you can live with the not-quite-there colours, its possibly OK enough. UK buyers really need to shop around for a deal, the retail price is appalling and you can easily buy it for less, as I did.