Qantas Airbus A380 flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles takes off

Monday, October 20, 2008, 13:20 by Aviation Correspondent

Qantas Airways, the national airline of Australia and the nation’s largest carrier, launched commercial service of its new Airbus A380 Superjumbo, the world’s largest passenger airliner, on October 20, 2008.

Flying on the Melbourne to Los Angeles route, Qantas thus became the first carrier to carry paying passengers to Los Angeles in an Airbus A380.

Airbus A380

Airbus A380

Flight QF93 direct from Melbourne to Los Angeles, packed to its 450-passenger capacity, took off from Melbourne at 11:15 a.m. (0015 GMT).

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-bodied, four-engine airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus Industrie, based in Toulouse, France. The A380, nickname Superjumbo and the largest passenger airliner in the world, made its maiden flight on April 27, 2005, from Toulouse, France, and made its first commercial flight on October 25, 2007, from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines. The A380 aircraft provides seating for 525 people in standard three-class configuration or up to 853 people in all economy-class configuration. The A380 is offered in passenger and freighter versions. The passenger version A380-800 has a design range of 15,200 kilometres (8,200 nautical miles), sufficient to fly from New York to Hong Kong, for example, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph) at cruise altitude.

Qantas Airways, based in Sydney and with its main hub at Kingsford Smith International Airport, is the third airline to put the A380 Superjumbo into commercial service.

Singapore Airlines, the flag carrier of Singapore, had started flying the Superjumbo in 2007, while Emirates Airline, a subsidiary of the Emirates Group based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), began service with the aricraft in August 2008.

Emirates is currently the A380 aircraft’s biggest client, with 58 orders. We have been tracking Airbus A380 news since its first flight – you can seen archived Airbus A380 photo gallery here.

The A380 plane of Qantas is configured with 450 seats in four cabins – 14 in first class, 72 in business class, 32 in premium economy class, and 332 in economy class.

Geoff Dixon, chief executive of Qantas, said at the launch of the carrier’s first commercial flight of the Airbus A380: “Though there is a lessening in demand in all classes, Qantas has held up better than most airlines. Qantas will take delivery of three A380 aircraft by the end of 2008, and will have eight in service by the end of 2009. Its 20-strong order would be delivered by the end of 2013. By the end of 2009, when our eighth A380 aircraft has been delivered, Qantas will offer daily A380 services to Los Angeles from Melbourne.”

The airline’s first “ultra long-distance” services with Airbus A380 to London, via Singapore, would begin in January 2009, Dixon said.

A Qantas Airbus A380 had flown and landed in LA in March 2007 on a test flight.

He added: “The decision to fly its first Airbus A380 commercial service to the US West Coast showed a commitment to expanding the trans-Pacific market, an extremely lucrative route for airlines. We have operated air services between Australia and the United States since 1954 and have invested.”

It was after a series of long delays that Qantas Airways took delivery of its first Superjumbo in September 2008. And, Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon described the 8-year-long wait for launching the Airbus A380 service as “nerve-wracking.”

Qantas has recently been taking a lot of flak about its maintenance and safety standards.