Posts Tagged 'airbus a380'

9th Emirates A380 Destination: Manchester

Emirates Airlines is going to fly their Airbus A380 superjumbo to Manchester, UK from the first of September.

The Dubai based carrier will be replacing one of their two daily flights between Dubai and Manchester on September 1, 2010. The plane to be operated to their second A380 destination in the UK will be a 517 seat version of the largest Airbus plane. The A380 will replace a Boeing 777 that currently operates the route.

Manchester will be the 9th destination that Emirates flies the A380 to, and the third in Europe, following London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Outside of Europe they operate the doubledecker aircraft to Toronto, Jeddah, Bangkok, Soeul Incheon, Sydney and Auckland.

This announcement didn’t come cheap for Manchester, though: “We have invested close to £10 million in upgrading the airfield and terminal. . .to accommodate the aircraft,”  Andrew Cornish from Manchester Airport said.

by balint01


Airbus A380 Flights To Zürich

Singapore Airlines will be flying the Airbus A380 to Zürich, Switzerland daily, starting with the 2010 Summer Timetable – from March 28, 2010.

The Singapore Airlines news release states: “Daily Airbus A380 services between Singapore and Zurich will replace the existing 12 weekly frequencies between the two cities, which are currently operated with smaller Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Operations are subject to the airport being certified for A380 flights.

Zürich airport is working on the case to be certified for the A380 as soon as possible, and had a full airport test for the aircraft type at the end of January for two days. Thousands of enthusiastic Swiss plane-spotters took the chance on a very cold morning to watch the 73 meter long Airbus A380 land in Switzerland for the first time. After spending one night in Zürich, the Airbus test aircraft flew to Geneva for similar tests.

These exclusive Airline World pictures were taken of the Airbus Test super-jumbo by Mr. Oliver Decsi, at Zürich airport:

Assuming that the certificate is granted, Zurich will be the third city in Europe and the seventh in Singapore Airlines’ network to receive the A380. The Airline started operating the superjumbo in October 2007 to Sydney and subsequently added services to London, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong and Melbourne. Many industry analysts earlier predicted Frankfurt, Germany to become the third European destination, but it looks like fellow Star Alliance hub Zürich will get the newest Singapore Airlines airplane, the eleventh of the type for the carrier.

Singapore Airlines is currently the only airline flying non-stop between Zürich and Singapore and can reduce the weekly 12 flights to a daily service, increasing efficiency. On routes where Singapore has started using the A380, it has stolen extra marketshare, and lifted passenger loads. For example on the Tokyo-Narita service, all other airlines flying the route have reported declines in number of passengers (ANA: -13%, JAL: -19%, United Airlines: -22%, Delta Air Lines: -7%), except Singapore with its A380, that gained 8%.

Singapore and Qantas are averaging an 83% load factor across their A380 flights, Airbus says. Singapore’s A380s are achieving a 20% reduction in fuel burn over the 747-400. On reliability, the A380 had a 97% technical dispatch record in the first year, which compares favorably with the Boeing 777 at around 98% and is well ahead of the Boeing 747-400, which swung between 89% and 93% when it entered commercial operations. Airbus is targeting 98% reliability for the A380 this year. The first major batch of software upgrades was introduced on Ship 33, the first for Air France, and these are “making a difference,” as reported by Airbus. The upgrade is being refitted to the other 26 aircraft in service. The A380 has generated approximately 100,000 revenue flight hours on 10,000 flights so far.

Airbus will deliver 20 aircraft this year, including three that were supposed to have been delivered in 2009. “We are at 1.5 aircraft a month and moving up to two a month by year end,” the company said.

20 new A380’s in 2010 will surely mean a lot of similar news about new airlines, new routes and new airports getting the services of the super-jumbo.

by balint01

Air Comet Shuts Down

Air Comet, the second biggest Spanish airline operating between Spain and Latin America has shut down on December 22, just before the 2009 Christmas holidays – leaving thousands of holiday passengers at airports around the Spanish speaking part of the World.

Established in 1996, Air Comet started operations in March, 1997 as Air Plus Comet, and was based at Madrid Barajas Airport in Spain, at Terminal 1. In 2007 it took over the routes of the bankrupt Air Madrid, that (also) left thousands of Holiday passengers behind over the Christmas period of 2006 and that’s when it simplified its name to Air Comet.

It operated scheduled flights to a number of Central and South American destinations, including Havana (Cuba), Bogota (Colombia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Peru), Quito and Guayaquil (Ecuador) as well as Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) – just to name a few. It temporarily suspended its flight Santiago de Chile earlier in 2009 due to focusing on other markets.

Air Comet’s parent company, Grupo Marsans had ordered a number of new planes, including four Airbus A380 superjumbos that were to have 620 seats and were to be operated on the most popular routes to South-America. Besides the big A380’s, Grupo Marsans also ordered 10 A350’s and 17 new Airbus A330’s, the first of which was already delivered in August, 2008. It now looks like, the A380’s will never be operated under the Air Comet brand and livery…

The problems came in early 2009, when in February, IATA has suspended Air Comet from the IATA Clearing House system, as it failed to pay its January balance. Then since April it failed to pay the salaries to a number of its employees. Then on December 22 it announced that it ceases operations immediately. This announcement came after the German HSH Nordbank – the owner of the Air Comet fleet – requested a court order as the airline has not been paying its leasing fees for some time (summing up to EUR 17 million by now). According to the Bank, they offered Air Comet the option to continue operating the aircraft for a few more days to be able to bring Christmas holidaymakers to their destinations. But according to the Spanish transport ministry, the airline did not even have enough money left to pay for fuel and fees, thus it has withdrawn Air Comet’s Operating License immediately.

The airline said it plans to lay off all 640 employees and file for bankruptcy. In the meantime, the plans to take over Air Comet by the US Air Transport Group Private Equity firm have failed, due to the repossession of the whole fleet – see the HSH Nordbank reference above.

Dozens of angry Air Comet customers blocked the entrance to Barajas’s Terminal 1 on December 23. They described the company’s management as “thieves”, according to the AFP news agency.

The Spanish Government is spending 6.3 million Euros on renting 4 airplanes to bring home about 7000 stranded passengers of Air Comet.

by balint01

The Air France Airbus A380

Air France is the first European carrier to introduce the Airbus A380 double-decker Superjumbo in its fleet, with the first scheduled commercial flight taking place between Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and New York JFK airports. Air France has 12 of the type on order and plans to take delivery of the first three in the 2009/2010 winter season. Their first plane is already the 20th of the type in operation and now all three airline alliances operate at least one of the type.

380 tickets for each of the first flights were auctioned off on e-Bay in October, where all proceeds went to charity organizations selected by Air France. The first European owned SuperJumbo seats 538 passengers – compared to just 450 at Qantas, 471 at Singapore Airlines and 489 at Emirates. The so-far most crowded A380 has only 9 seats in First Class, 80 in Business and 449 in Economy. 22 flight attendants will be taking care of the 538 passengers – meaning one steward(ess) for every 25 travellers. Besides being the first European airline to own the A380, Air France will also be the first to operate the aircraft to the African Continent as it plans to introduce the plane to a daily Johannesburg flight later this winter following the Paris-New York route.

At the launch ceremony Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon did not only focus on the “usual” media messaging around the unrivaled luxury of the A380 (as Singapore AirlinesEmirates and Qantas did earlier), but instead pointed out the savings that this aircraft will bring for the company. Each aircraft will allow the carrier to save €12-€15 million ($17.7-$22.1 million) per year based on their calculations. This is mostly due to the size of the plane and that it can replace two other flights, which could be serviced by an Airbus A340-300 (equivalent to the upper deck) and a Boeing 777-200 (equivalent to the main deck of the A380) for example. Flying the same number of passengers in just a single A380 instead means 20% reduction in operating costs as the frequencies on busy routes can be rationalized by replacing two flights which leave at similar times by one flight, while offering the same number of seats. For example, between Paris and New York, an A380 leaving at 1:35pm can replace two flights operated by an A340 and a 777-200, leaving at 10:30am and at 1:35pm respectively. The same connecting morning flights can still service and feed the “big” flight.

On top of all the rationalization of flights, the A380 uses less fuel per passenger. It burns less than three litres per 100 km! Besides the gas emmissions, the A380 creates less noise than its closest rival, the Boeing 747 – half as much at take-off! I had the personal experience of seeing and (not) hearing the A380 land in Frankfurt on one of its test-flights back in 2007 with Lufthansa crew – and we were all shocked by the little noise it generated compared to other aircraft landing on the same approach route before and after it. The Air France A380 is also quieter in the cabin itself, and besides the 220 windows it has special lighting features to reflect the time of the day within a flight and to help synchronizing the body-clock of the passengers. Guests can also meet up during the flight for a drink and a snack in one of the 6 bars onboard. One of these is for Première (First Class) on the main deck, two for Affaires (Business Class) on the upper deck and three for Voyageur (Economy Class), with two at the main deck and one upstairs.


We hope Air France and its passengers will be happy with the first new Airbus A380 flying under European registration and providing the first Transatlantic connection aboard the double-decker superjumbo between Europe and North America. Please leave your comments if you happened to be on one of these flights and would like to share your experiences with our readers!

Download the AirFrance Airbus A380 Factsheet (pdf)

Separately, but conincidentally at the same time as the first Air France A380 flight: Emirates said it will begin serving Paris Charles de Gaulle with a 489-seat A380 from Dubai on Dec. 29 rather than Feb. 1. “An operational review, coupled with demand on the route, has led to an earlier introduction,” it said. The A380 will fly thrice-weekly to start, becoming daily Jan. 17.

by balint01

Airbus A380 Sightseeing Flights Over Antarctica

Australian oneworld member Qantas is already operating 4 Airbus A380s, and is awaiting two more for delivery in late 2009. Now Qantas is offering a very special experience aboard this very special aircraft: Sightseeing flights above the all-white, mysterious Antarctica – the world of endless ice and snow. Now a few hundred travelers will have the chance to take a very special look at it from above, from the warm and luxurious flight deck of a Qantas A380 – the largest passenger jet ever flown.

Qantas Boeing 747 Flying Over Antarctica - by Antarctica Flights

Qantas will operate three sightseeing flights over Antarctica during the Southern summer with its new A380. It is partnering with Antarctica Sightseeing Flights of Melbourne once again, with whom they have previously provided similar special flights aboard Boeing 747-400s.  The idea originally came from New Zealand, where Air New Zealand provided similar flights in the ’70s, until November 28, 1979, when one of its McDonnell Douglas DC-10‘s tragically crashed into Mt. Erebus on Antarctica. It took many years before Qantas paired up with Croydon Travel in 1994 for their first scenic Antarctica flight. They have safely operated 85 flights over the 15 years taking more than 30,000 people to experience the world’s ‘last great wilderness’ during this one and a half decade. In contrast to the 30,000 people flown above it, this continent has given birth to only one human in 1978 and has only around 1,000 researchers living on its soil year-round (but nobody is registered there).

The first A380 flight is scheduled for takeoff on December 31, 2009 from Melbourne, the second on January 24, 2010 from Sydney. There will be third Antarctic flight on February 14 from Melbourne, but with a Boeing 747. The New Year’s Eve flight will be under the command of Capt. John Dennis, who has flown more than 40 of Qantas’ 85 747 flights to the ice, and both others will be commanded by a senior Qantas Captain who had flown at least once to Antarctica. The most frequently used route takes the aircraft over the icecap, the South Magnetic Pole, the French scientific base at Dumont d’Urville and finally the spectacular Trans-Antarctic Range. Approval has been secured for 19 Antarctic flight routes, with final selection based upon weather and viewing opportunities.

Qantas Over Antarctica by Craig Murray on

All flights include two meals with the on board experience enhanced by a panel of experts, including world accredited Antarctic scientists, glaciologists, explorers, adventurers & mountaineers. On to top of the view from the windows, the on board entertainment system would show the live picture of the panorama from the cockpit.  The passengers of the “New Year’s Eve Midnight Sun Party Flight” will be the first to see the sun in 2010– as it will be full daylight at 12.01am over the ice – and the flight will feature dancing in the aisles to the music of a live jazz band.

The flights take about 3 hours to reach the first icebergs of Antarctica, followed by four hours flying above the continent and another 4 to reach Australia again – totaling an average flight time of between 11-13 hours. When over Antarctica the plane flies at approximately 10,000 feet above sea level as this altitude provides excellent viewing while still respecting the wildlife habitats at sea level. The aircraft flies in long sweeping ‘figure 8s’ over various points of interest to allow the spectacular sights to be viewed from both sides of the aircraft. Passenger will be given two boarding passes and will have to switch seats half-way through the flight. This means that all passengers (except the ones flying in Economy Centre or Business Centre seats) will have a window seat at least for half of the flight. Given that there is no dark at night over Antarctica during the Southern summer time, it doesn’t really matter which half of the flight you have the window seat. The seatmap is available here.

Fares for this unforgettable experience start from AUD999 (USD899) for the Economy Class Centre seats and go up through 6 other seat-types to the First Class seats for AUD 6,299 (USD 5,667).

by balint01

Airbus A380 News

With 19 Airbus A380s already in service around the world, it’s time to take a look at the latest Airbus A380 news – following our latest updates about new flights and operational issues.

Singapore Airlines – 9 A380s in service – 5 (+ 1) routes

The launch customer of the Airbus A380 superjumbo  – since October 2007 – has already received 9 of the type and has brought the A380 to 7 cities so far. More than 1.4 million customers have flown on its A380s that have clocked more than 35,000 flying hours on more than 4,000 flights since the start of commercial service. Following the first flight to Hong Kong in early July, Melbourne in Australia will be the latest airport to receive the A380 service with 471 seats on board in three classes, following Singapore, Sydney, London, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong – when the first flight will land in the second most popolous Australian city on 29 September, 2009. The daily A380 flights will replace an existing daily Boeing 747-400 service to Melbourne. SQ227 will depart Singapore Changi Airport at 2100hrs and arrive in Melbourne at 0610hrs (0710hrs from 4 October 2009 due to daylight savings) the next day. On the return leg, SQ228 will depart Melbourne at 1550hrs (1650hrs from 4 October 2009) and touch down in Singapore at 2140hrs.

Emirates – 6 A380s in service – 5 (+ 2) routes

Emirates currently has the largest order placed for the doubledecker aircraft and has already received 6 of the type. Starting in July 2008, Emirates have been serving London Heathrow, Sydney, and Auckland. Since the 1st of June they have been operating the A380 to the Thai capital of Bangkok on a daily flight and to Toronto in Canada, three times weekly. The next Asian destination for the Emirates A380 will be the Korean capital, Seoul, from the 1st of December. The 489 seat, 3 class configuration Emirates A380 features two fully equipped bathrooms with showers and an onboard bar for first and business class passengers as a specialty. In Europe, the next airport served will be Paris Charles de Gaulle from 1st of February, 2010. But Emirates will operate a single service to UK’s Birmingham to mark the Airport’s 70th birthday on September 9th, 2009. This will be the first commercial A380 service outside of London Heathrow in the UK and will park at the new Pier of Birmingham Airport – which opens on the same day with the Emirates A380 as the first aircraft being served there.

Qantas – 4 A380s in service – 4 routes

Qantas has been operating the A380 is its fleet since October 2008. The fourth A380 arrives to Australia at the end of July, allowing Qantas to increase its Sydney-Singapore-London A380 services from three to five per week, and Sydney-Los Angeles services from three to four per week. The fifth and sixth airplane scheduled to arrive in 2009 will further increase the frequency between Australia and the UK and the US, as by November Qantas will operate daily A380 services to London and LA and will increase the Melbourne-Los Angeles services from two to three A380 flights per week. By the end of 2009 this will mean 34 return flights per week. The 450 seat, four-class configuration aircraft type has so far transported more than 200.000 passengers at the Australian flag-carrier.

A380 in new AirFrance Livery

+ Air France – 0 A380s in service – (+1) route

Air France – the first European operator of the type – has rolled out the airplane in its new livery on the 9th of July. This airplane is scheduled to enter service in November on a daily Paris Charles de Gaulle – New York JFK service. It is interesting that Emirates had operated the A380 to New York JFK before, but has since withdrawn the aircraft from the route. The French A380 will be configured for 538 passengers in a three-cabin layout with 80 business and 106 economy seats on the upper deck and nine first class and 343 economy seats on the main deck. That compares with 450 seats on Qantas A380s, 471 on Singapore Airlines and 489 on Emirates. CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said in a recent conversation in Paris to Airwise News that Air France’s A380s would not be equipped with special luxury features specifically designed for the double-deck aircraft like spas or spacious premium suites. “It’s an aircraft, an aircraft offering high-density seating and thus offering lower unit costs,” he said. “We will use it as such.” AirFrance will be the first European airline to operate the A380 and the first to use it on transatlantic flights between Europe and the US. It has 12 on order, four of which will start operating this winter and next spring.

by balint01

Airbus A380 Problems at Qantas

The Australian Qantas Airways is the third airline to operate the Airbus A380 doubledecker aircraft, but the first one to be forced to temporarily withdraw all three of its A380 fleet from service.

On 2nd of March, 2009 Qantas had no A380s in service for a short period of time – all 3 aircraft having to be removed from operations due to unrelated fuel system problems. The first mega-jumbo of the Australian airline (named Nancy-Bird Walton) had technical troubles back in Sydney on Saturday (February 28) when it was delayed 19 hours (!) before taking off for London Heathrow. On the return trip, the aircraft suffered a fuel leak and passengers were transferred to a Boeing 747-400 – 12 hours later. Engineers in London fixed the fuel leak and the A380 was back in service by late Tuesday.

2 Qantas Airbus A380s - photo by David Morrell - Avid Creations - on

The other two A380s (pictured here above) had a different fuel system issue and were removed from service at the same time. Qantas has stated that two A380s were declared unserviceable with a ‘”fuel tank indication system problem”. They also returned to service on Tuesday after the fixes were made in Sydney. According to ATWOnline, “the issue related to the Fuel Quantity Indicating System (FQIS) and some microbiological contamination, which resulted in faulty FQIS readings.”

The introduction of the Airbus A380 is still referred to as the best entry into service of any aircraft with Australia’s national airline.

Since entering service in October 2007, the 13 A380s flying with Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas have flown 31,750 hours and 3,300 revenue flights, with 97.8% leaving on time. There were only a few, minor incidents earlier at Singapore Airlines.

by balint01

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