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"Time will fly with gym, casino on Airbus' new super jet"
Tuesday, February 20, 2001
Time will fly with gym, casino on Airbus' new super jet
By Ina Paiva Cordle
Knight Ridder Newspapers
TOULOUSE, France - Airbus Industrie wants to reinvent air travel with its
future super-jumbo jet, entertaining 21st-century passengers as they cruise
across the ocean.
The A380 will seat 555 passengers and offer optional amenities like a
cocktail bar, library, casino, duty-free shops, gym, spa and staterooms with
Passengers can stroll amid three decks - try their hands at a game of
blackjack, buy some perfume or enjoy a shower or massage - whiling away the
long hours of a trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flight.
"It's a 15- to 20-minute trip to walk around, to exercise your legs and keep
your respiration going," said John Leahy, Airbus' executive vice president
of customer affairs, "rather than being trapped in a seat for 16 to 17
Airbus has received orders for 60 A380s, including passenger planes for
Singapore Airlines, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Quantas and Emirates.
Airbus hopes to sell another 50 within the next 12 to 18 months. The first
planes will be delivered in March 2006.
Airbus projects worldwide passenger volume to double in the next 15 years,
and the super-jumbo will help strained airports in absorbing that growth,
said Henri Courpron, president of Airbus Industrie of North America. It's
less costly to adapt an airport to larger aircraft than for the airport to
handle more flights on smaller aircraft, which would require additional
runways, he said.
The A380 will hold 220 seats on its upper deck and 335 seats on its main
deck, as normally configured by airlines with three classes of service. The
plane's certified capacity will be up to 1,000 passengers, if an airline
chooses to put in the maximum number of economy seats, which is unlikely.
The plane will require two sets of crew members for long-haul flights - or
four pilots and 40 flight attendants in all, said Denis Dempster, product
marketing manager for Airbus.
Inside, the A380 has 49 percent more floor space and 35 percent more seating
than the Boeing 747-400, giving passengers wider seats and aisles, Leahy
So large is the A380 that before it can be constructed, Airbus must first
build a factory large enough to house it. A 370-acre property near Toulouse
has been chosen, and construction will begin in about a year, with an aim to
have the factory in operation in 2003.
For now, prospective buyers can tour a lifesize wooden mock-up, on display
at Airbus' Toulouse headquarters. With a staircase, curving walls, frosted
glass and lights that will dim from eye-soothing shades of blue to pink, the
model is designed with leather banquettes and bar stools and a small Zen
Airbus likens the plane - which carries a list price of $235 million - to a
cruise ship. Airlines will have the choice of outfitting the lower level
with a casino, gym, spa or shop, generating additional revenue while
providing passenger amenities. Staterooms with bunk beds can also be added.
Virgin Atlantic says it's too early to know which features it will choose or
what routes it will fly, but it says the A380 will fit well into its fleet,
providing about 40 percent greater capacity and 20 percent lower operating
costs per passenger.
"It gives us the opportunity to innovate," said John Riordan, the airline's
vice president of sales and marketing. "It's a bigger aircraft type, and we
think it will hit the aircraft market with the same buzz the jumbo jet hit
the market in the '60s."
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