A-plane GaN epilayers doped with erbium (GaN:Er) have been grown on r-plane sapphire substrates by metal organic chemical vapor deposition. The 1.54 μm emission properties were probed by photoluminescence (PL) emission spectroscopy and compared with those of c-plane GaN:Er. It was found that the emission intensity from a-plane GaN:Er is 4 times higher than that of c-plane GaN:Er. The intensity of the 1.54 μm emission was found to increase with increasing Er molar flux. Aplane Er-doped GaN epilayers exhibit a small thermal quenching effect, with only a 12% decrease in the integrated intensity of the 1.54 μm PL emission, occurred between 10 and 300 K.