passenger plane-world record set by Airbus A380
25] Sydney Airport, Australia--The world's largest and most luxurious
passenger plane completed its first commercial flight Thursday,
travelling from Singapore to Sydney. With 455 passengers and 30
crew aboard, including four pilots, the Singapore Airlines Airbus
A380 took off from Changi Airport and landed seven hours later in
the Australian city.
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)
The plane came into the country after a 7 1/2
hour flight from Singapore. Passengers looked tired but happy as
they came out of the arrivals gate at Sydney Airport. It was a carnival
atmosphere with a three-piece band playing music, media crews speaking
to passengers everywhere and passengers showing off their framed
certificates of flight.
Most of the seats on the plane were made available
via auction on the website eBay, with the bidders helping to raise
money for charity.
A mixture of passengers experienced the latest word
in flight travel, with a ten month-old boy from Singapore joined
by a 91 year-old man from the same country.
Another of the passengers, Thomas Lee, from California,
was on the world's first Boeing 747 commercial flight between New
York and London in 1970.
Those on board not only got to experience the
spacious and luxury setting of the vast plane, but were also treated
to a champagne brunch, along with a selection of fine wines.
"I have never been in anything like this in the
air before in my life," said Australian Tony Elwood, who with his
wife dined on marinated lobster and double boiled chicken soup before
sipping on Dom Perignon Rose. "It is going to make everything else
after this simply awful." Elwood paid US$50,000 for two tickets.
The so-called superjumbo jet, filled with posh
suites and double beds, runs on four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines.
Flight attendants passed around champagne to flyers, some of whom
shelled out thousands of dollars to be part of the craft's maiden
Seven storeys tall with wings big enough to hold 70
cars, the A380 replaces the Boeing 747 jumbo jet as the world's
biggest passenger airline. It's capable of carrying 853 passengers
if the plane was configured purely for economy class. However Singapore
Airlines decided instead to provide 471 seats in three classes -
12 private suites, 60 business class seats, and 399 economy-class
The suites feature a leather upholstered
seat, a table, a flat-screen television, laptop connections and
a bed that folds up into the wall. Business class seats can be transformed
into beds, while even the economy class spaces have more leg and
The plane is valued at US$320 million. Not everyone
is convinced the jet will be a success however - Standard & Poor's
Equity Research analyst Shukor Yusof noted the A380 has received
only 165 orders so far, compared to more than 700 for the Boeing
The majority of the seats on the two legs of this
flight were sold on eBay, the global online marketplace, with all
proceeds donated to charities.
The auction raised around S$1.9 million, all of which
will be split three ways, between Singapore and Sydney charities,
and a global humanitarian organization:
* One third to Singapore’s Community Chest
* One third between the Sydney Children’s Hospital,
Randwick, and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, both in Sydney
* One third to Médecins Sans Frontières, also known
as Doctors Without Borders. Cheques will be presented to the beneficiary
organizations during events in Singapore and Sydney.