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.
MORE FROM THE TARMAC