THE world’s biggest jumbo jet landed safely in Sydney on October 25, completing its long-delayed first commercial flight from Singapore.
The double-decker A380 emerged from low-lying cloud to fly over Sydney's famous harbour before touching down on time, a contrast to two years of delays which pushed its European manufacturer Airbus into a loss.
Watched by hundreds of airport staff and aviation enthusiasts lining fences outside the airport, passengers on the inaugural Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight disembarked without a hitch.
SIA is to take delivery of another five A380s in 2008, while Emirates Airline is to take delivery of its first next August.
"It was great being a part of history," Michael Sim, who said he had paid about 30 per cent more for his ticket than he would have on other flights, told Reuters television.
Passengers paid between $560 and $100,380 for seats on the inaugural flight, after bidding for the tickets as part of a charity auction to drum up publicity.
During the flight, first-class passengers reclined in suites modelled on luxury yacht interiors and slumbered in proper beds which the airline said can be converted into doubles.
French design house Givenchy designed the bedding, while passengers ate off fine bone chinaware and drank from crystal glasses bought in by the same designer.
The A380 can seat more than 800 passengers although Singapore Airlines, the first airline to take delivery of the plane, has configured the aircraft to seat 470 over two decks, hoping to attract more top-paying passengers.
The superjumbo replaces the Boeing 747 as the world's largest airliner in service.
"Flying the aircraft itself is like flying any other big jet," said pilot Robert Ting, who was one of four pilots and a crew of 30.
Airbus handed the superjumbo to SIA earlier last month after wiring glitches caused two years of delays, pushed the planemaker into a loss and leading to the loss of 10,000 jobs. The planemaker was recently forced to deny rumours of another bout of delays.
"There are no delays; that is a misunderstanding," Airbus sales chief John Leahy told reporters.
Asked if Airbus was reaffirming its 2008 delivery target of 13 aircraft, Leahy said: "That is our plan and we are on target.” (Reuters)