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Korean Air Launches A380 out of Atlanta

Korean Air A380

And they’re off. The world’s biggest commercial passenger plane now flies to the world’s busiest airport. A Korean Air Airbus A380 jets between Seoul and Atlanta three times a week, although they’ll discontinue A380 service later this month and continue with daily A380 flights on Oct. 27.

The postmodern Airbus (a good describer for what it is) pushed ATL beyond the edge of its capabilities. They had to widen two runways and three taxiways by an area the size of 135 football fields (855,000 square feet). They also beefed up puppy-size passenger loading bridges for the seemingly endless conga line of passengers trudging off the double-decker plane.

“We’ve spent several months making a number of enhancements to airport facilities in preparation for the arrival of the world’s largest aircraft,” Louis Miller, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s general manager, said in a statement. “We see these improvements as part of the growth process inherent in being the world’s busiest airport.”

Can wooden chocks under the wheels even hold such a passenger-loaded behemoth? Who is Ahab, who is the whale?

Korean Air, the modern standard-bearer for expansion, says its version of the superjumbo jet is “the industry’s most spacious A380, with a unique upper deck of only 94 business class seats and only 407 seats in total, the fewest of any global airline.”

We’ll see how long that lasts, if these are mere words on the wind. There’s nothing more innovative than airlines that have been beaten.

All premium seats (where physical needs are either taken care of or prohibited) on Korean Air’s A380 are flat sleepers. What’s next – ornamental dormers, pineapple finials, crown molding? Sixty-eight-ounce martinis?

The inaugural flight into ATL (the ceremony was delayed until Friday, Sept. 6, because they didn’t want to be upstaged by the Labor Day holiday) celebrated with a water-canon salute and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Korean Air has been flying to Atlanta since December 1994.

“Our A380 flight is a game changer for the region,” John Jackson, Korean Air’s VP of marketing for the Americas, said in a company press release. “We now offer service to Asia from Atlanta that no one else can meet. Our aircraft is roomier, quieter and more comfortable than any other serving the Southeast. Our traffic between Atlanta and Seoul has been growing at 10% per year and it makes good sense to invest in markets that are showing long-term growth.

“The reduced seating layout will expand cabin space and provide customers with a truly luxurious air travel experience. We are designing the cabin to promote relaxing air travel, and will incorporate some unique features to be revealed later.”

Korean Air has ten A380s on order through 2014. They were the sixth carrier worldwide to fly the superjumbo jet.

The Tarmac’s View: Korean Air, by moving their bishop on the chessboard of airline routes, expects the A380 service into Atlanta will pick up passengers from China, Japan, and East Asia transferring to the U.S. and Europe, thereby adding to Incheon International Airport’s growth.

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Comments (Showing 5 of 5)

  • HDQDD at 11:04pm September 17, 2013

    You have to wonder how many A380 flights it will take to pay for all the improvements ATL had to do for this one flight/day.

  • Asiaflyguy at 3:48am September 18, 2013

    Just currious, when do we stop counting how many airlines are flying the A380… 7, 8, 10?

  • BearX220 at 5:21am September 18, 2013

    What the hell does this sentence even mean?

    “Can wooden chocks under the wheels even hold such a passenger-loaded behemoth? Who is Ahab, who is the whale?”

    And… does the columnist really believe Europe-bound passengers in China, Japan, and East Asia will fly the KE A380 to ATL?

    Two signs of diesel fumes in the writer’s room.

  • Doublejade at 2:40pm September 18, 2013

    With Korean carriers’ horrible safety records, I won’t consider flying them.

  • rwoman at 12:58pm September 19, 2013

    Not much appeal to DL FFers who may struggle to earn MQMs on KE flights.

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