Continued handling of the A380

Posted: 6 June 2012 | Mark Glover, Commissioning Editor, International Airport Review | No comments yet

Five years after its maiden flight, the Airbus A380 continues to grow its operations around the world. Key to the aircraft’s smooth consolidation with airports was Airbus’ early involvement with ground handlers. In this special interview, Mark Glover from International Airport Review spoke to two of Airbus’ key figures in the implementation; Peter Esteie, Head of Ground Operations and Thomas Burger, Product Marketing Manager of the A380.

Houston’s approach to accommodating the Airbus A380

Mark Glover: How successful has the A380 integration been within airports over the previous years?

Thomas Burger: Globally speaking we are very happy. We have 253 orders from 19 customers where all three global alliances are represented. The first delivery took place in October 2007 and today we have 72 aircraft in service. We have seven operators operating these 72 aircraft, flying across 54 routes to 28 destinations. In terms of seat count, the lowest of 407 is on board the Korean Air aircraft. Airfrance carries the most on its A380 with 538 seats.

The top ten A380 airports within the 28 destinations see 100 flights a day, which represents over one million passengers a month. The route lengths also vary, spanning from two hours from Dubai to Jeddah to 14 hours from Melbourne to Los Angeles.

In terms of new routes for 2012, Emirates will be flying from Amsterdam and Lufthansa will be touching down in Houston.

Although 28 A380 destinations does not seem like a huge amount, it is worth noticing the concentration of other large aircraft around the world. There are around 40 airports today that accommodate 80 per cent of the world’s 747 movements. For us, it is not about dots on maps, as long as the right airport is ready at the right time then that is the most important thing for us. We jointly created the A380 Airport Compatibility Group (AACG) which outlines aircraft specific airside requirements to minimise the modifications, and provide an equivalent level of safety as ICAO Code F recommendations.

Airports are generally extremely proactive when airlines inform them that they are bringing the A380 to their destination as they recognise the benefits and we are very happy with the way the relationship is continuing. More than 20 additional airports are ready today or making preparations to accommodate the aircraft in the next few years.

We are also currently visiting airports within our demo tours of the A380 with the most recent being Brazil, adding Rio to the list. In total we have visited 142 airports around the world in various guises, from small including Sharm el-Sheikh Airport and Tarbes Airport west of Toulouse to most of the world’s major hubs.

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