Airbus Superjumbo Completes First Commercial Flight

Flight carries 455 passengers from Singapore to Sydney

The Airbus A380, the largest airliner ever built, successfully completed its maiden commercial flight on Oct. 25, heralding a new era in aviation after months of delays and massive cost overruns. The superjumbo, a gigantic double-decker that can carry more than 850 people, winged its way in style as 455 passengers enjoyed champagne and caviar on the historic flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Travelers from around the world booked their seats on the maiden flight in an online charity auction, with one Briton paying $100,000 to be among the first to fly the largest passenger plane ever constructed. For the inaugural flight, suites passengers were offered Dom Perignon Rose 1996, caviar and a menu including duck breast and black cod.

But the lavish celebration could not disguise what was a long and bumpy take-off for Airbus, which was 18 months late in delivering the plane to SIA and suffered an estimated six billion dollars in cost over-runs. The delay embarrassed the European manufacturer, a bitter rival of Boeing. Rival Boeing has put its energies into developing a midsized airplane, the 787 Dreamliner, which has secured at least 710 orders. In contrast, Airbus has 180 firm orders and commitments to buy the superjumbo.

Dubai-based Emirates has ordered 55 A380s, making it the leading client on a list of predominantly Asian, European and Gulf-based customers. Qantas will get the A380 next year for use on its Los Angeles route.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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