Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Toulouse, FRANCE — In a ceremony attended by several European political leaders and 5,000 VIP guests, Airbus unveiled plans for the A380, a twin-deck aircraft that can carry up to 840 people in all-economy class (550 for a Boeing 747), or 555 people in typical three mixed classes layout.
The new aircraft will take the world’s-largest title away from rival Boeing’s 747. Boeing’s upcoming new design, the 7e7, does not attempt to compete directly with the A380 but instead is aimed at a more efficient and comfortable flight at 200-250 seats.
Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard stated that he expected sales of the aircraft to exceed the 250 required for the project to break even. To date, 149 confirmed orders for the aircraft have been received. Airbus has hopes that sales will exceed 700. The company is currently in talks with China regarding possible sales there.
The first test flight of the aircraft may take place as early as March, and the first commercial flight is expected to take off in mid-2006 from Singapore’s Changi Airport.
British and American airline Virgin Atlantic has purchased six of these aeroplanes and intend to fit them with gyms and bars as well as seats.