New York: An Emirates Airbus 380 superjumbo flight touched down at New York JFK International Airport on Friday, marking the first commercial flight to the United States of the giant, double-decker passenger plane. The Emirates aircraft, carrying 489 passengers, came in on time after a 12-1/2 hour flight from Dubai.
The superjumbo had flown to New York and Los Angeles in March last year for route-testing and demonstration purposes, but yesterday's flight was the first scheduled flight to the continent.
The Gulf-based carrier, which took delivery of the aircraft at the beginning of the week, becomes only the second airline to put the A380 into service, after launch customer, Singapore Airlines. SIA began superjumbo services to Sydney in October last year.
The plane, costs $327 million at list prices and has so far cost Airbus parent, EADS, nearly $10 billion to manufacture. Airbus has secured 200 orders for the aircraft to date but none from US carriers. It needs about the same number of additional orders to break even on the project.
Airbus spent more than a decade in developing the A380, easily Europe's largest manufacturing project. The project is running more than 18 months late.
Emirates, the world's number-seven airline in terms of international passengers, has the largest number of A380s on order with 58. These would be worth almost $190 billion at list prices.
Other interesting details regarding the A380 include the fact that currently only 20 airports around the world are able to handle the aircraft. The plane needs extra-wide runways to provide dirt-free carriage for its long wingspan and two-tiered facilities for loading and unloading passengers.
The Emirates A380 has 14 first-class suites, two on-board showers and a bar for first-class customers, as well as a lounge for premium passengers.