BA welcomes superjumbo to fleet

British Airways is to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo

British Airways is to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo

First published in National News © by

British Airways is set to become the first UK airline to take delivery of an Airbus A380 superjumbo - the world's largest passenger plane.

BA's first A380 is due to touch down at Heathrow, with the airline's chief executive Keith Williams on board.

The BA double-decker superjumbo will be shown off at the carrier's engineering base at Hatton Cross alongside another recently delivered aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This will be the first of 12 superjumbos ordered by BA, with passenger services due to start this autumn. BA is configuring the massive, 238ft-long A380 to take 469 passengers, slightly fewer than some of the other superjumbo-operating airlines.

Those aboard the BA plane will be flying on an aircraft that is 79ft high, with wings that are 54% larger than those of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The A380 also has 50% more floor space than the Boeing 747 yet is 50% quieter on take-off. Many who have travelled on the superjumbo have noticed how much quieter it is on board as well.

Powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, the A380 can reach a speed of 587mph and has a range of 9,500 miles. The surface of the superjumbo is covered in three layers of paint weighing around 500kg. If all the wiring in the A380 is laid end to end it will stretch from Edinburgh to London. The A380's arrival follows the delivery last week of the first two of BA's Dreamliners. A second superjumbo is due to arrive in September.

BA said the first long-haul flight on the A380 will be to Los Angeles on September 24, with prices starting from £621 return, and the first to Hong Kong will be on October 22 with prices from £688 return.

There will be just 14 seats in first class on BA's superjumbos, with customers being seated at the front of the main deck. They will get 30% more space than those in first class on "normal" BA planes. Club World (business class) on the BA A380s will consist of 44 seats on the main deck and 53 seats on the upper deck. The 55 World Traveller Plus (premier economy) seats will be located on the upper deck while World Traveller (economy) customers can choose seats on both the main and upper deck.

Mr Williams said: "The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board."

Before it was flown to Heathrow, the A380 was handed over to BA by Airbus at the plane-making company's headquarters in Toulouse in southern France. Airbus president and chief executive Fabrice Bregie said: "It is a very proud moment for everyone at Airbus to see our A380 in the livery of British Airways, one of the world's most pioneering airlines. With this new flagship in their fleet, the British carrier opens a new era of long-haul flying and offers its passengers an all-new travel experience. It is a special day for UK industry too, as a significant proportion of this amazing aircraft was designed and built at Airbus's UK sites in Filton (Bristol) and Broughton (Wales), as well as at our many partners' facilities across the country."

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