Queens, NY - Airbus’ A380 superjumbo is set to touch down at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport today, marking the first commercial arrival of the giant, double-decker passenger plane on U.S. soil.
The Emirates aircraft, carrying 489 passengers, took off from Dubai earlier in the day, and is scheduled to arrive at 2.45 p.m. EDT after a 14-hour flight.
The Gulf-based carrier, owned by the government of Dubai, is the second airline to put the A380 into service, following Singapore Airlines, which started A380 flights to Sydney in October.
The plane, costing $327 million at list prices, did visit New York and Los Angeles in March last year for route-testing purposes, but Friday’s flight is the first regularly scheduled arrival of an A380 in the United States.
With its huge capacity and relatively fuel-efficient engines, airlines are hoping the world’s biggest passenger jet will be the most cost-effective way of serving high-volume routes linking big cities, especially in the light of soaring oil prices.
A successful touchdown will be a hard-won victory for Airbus, a unit of aerospace group EADS, which spent $10 billion and more than a decade on Europe’s largest industrial project, in the face of widespread skepticism.
Airbus has now sold about 200 of the planes to 16 airlines, but none to U.S. carriers. The company is still struggling to iron out production problems on the plane, after an 18-month delay in getting the first one out of its Toulouse, France, plant.
The delays ended up pushing Airbus into loss and toppling its management, and are still causing political aftershocks in France.
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