Airbus and Lufthansa at the endof last month flew an A380 to HongKong as part of global route proofingprogramme that also included visits toNew York and Chicago.
At least half of the 20 airports thatare expected to get most of the A380flights are located in the Asia-Pacificregion. Hong Kong InternationalAirport and other locations in Asiaand Australia have widened taxiwaysand built new air bridges to meet thenew loading requirements for the superjumbo.
The Hong Kong Airport Authority,for instance, spent HK$100 million($13 million) on upgrades in preparationfor the arrival of the A380.
Asian airlines including SingaporeAirlines (which will receive the firstA380 in October), Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, China Southern, THAI andQantas account for half of A380 airlinecustomers. In addition, Lufthansa,Emirates, the largest customer for theA380 with 43 orders, and other operatorsbased outside Asia will also fly thesuperjumbo to Hong Kong, Singapore,Bangkok and other major airports inthe region.
Richard Carcaillet, director productmarketing for the A380, said that thefreighter version of the A380, was “stillvery much alive” despite the cancellationlast month of the last 10 freighters on theAirbus list by United Parcel Service.
“The cancellation was of courseunfortunate, but it will allow us tofocus all our attention on getting theA380 production back on track,” saidCarcaillet. He predicted that the delayin the freighter launch would ultimatelyhave a beneficial effect on thefinal design of the A380F. “There isdefinitely a market for this freighter,”he said.