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Thursday
Jun162011

Korean Air flies first Airbus A380 today

Korean Air will fly the first Airbus A380 operated by any air carrier based in northeastern Asia today.  The flight will operate from Incheon International Airport (IATA: ICN; ICAO: RKSI) in the South Korean capital city of Seoul to Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA) in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.  Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Korean Air's holding company Hanjin Group, explained that the company took a "calculated risk" when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus at the Paris Air Show in 2003.

Cho cited the superior fuel efficiency of the A380 (compared to the models the A380 is replacing on many routes worldwide, such as the Boeing 747) as Korean Air's rationale for investing in the A380 less than two years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, a time of rising fuel prices and rising costs of doing business in the industry.  Airbus reported that Korean Air ordered a total of ten of the A380 model, with five to be delivered by the end of this year, and the other five to be delivered by 2014.

Airbus also explained that Korean Air eventually intends to use the A380 to operate routes to long-haul destinations from Incheon International, such as Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) in New York, Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG; ICAO: LFPG) in Paris, and Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX).  Korean Air currently uses the Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200, and the Boeing 747-400 to operate these non-stop routes, according to search results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights.

The -800 is the specific variant of the A380 that will be operated by Korean Air, and is the most popular variant of the A380 in use by the six airlines that currently fly the model.  Those airlines are, alphabetically, Air France, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas Airways, and Singapore Airlines

Korean Air added some posh touches to its A380s, that in some ways go beyond what the A380s of the other five operators feature.  Its seating arrangement includes 94 "prestige class" seats that lay flat.  The Korean Air A380 passenger capacity will be 407, far lower than the capacities on the A380s flown by the other five carriers.  Korean Air's A380s will also feature a bar lounge and a duty free shop.

[Pictured above is the delivery ceremony at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, on May 25 this year.]

original stories

The A380 enters commercial service with Korean Air (Airbus)

East Asia's first A380 goes into operation today (Korea JoongAng Daily)

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