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World's biggest passenger jet lands in Manila
[October 11, 2007]

World's biggest passenger jet lands in Manila

(Business World (Philippines) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) The World's biggest passenger airplane, the Airbus A380, touched down in Manila yesterday as its manufacturer continues a shakedown exercise spanning the globe.

The double-decker, 79-foot tall A380, which has a wingspan of nearly 262 feet, can accommodate over 800 passengers.

The A380 MSN009 test aircraft which landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was visiting the country as part of a four-leg technical route proving exercise.

In a press conference prior to the landing, A380 senior marketing manager Julian Manhes said tests during the tour were aimed at assessing the aircraft's readiness for service.

The A380 came from Melbourne and will be leaving today for Clark in the north. It will fly to Dubai in the Middle East later in the afternoon before returing to Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse, France.

The trip aims to accumulate 150 hours of "typical airline" continuous operation to accomplish the necessary certification requirements, Airbus officials said.

Jean-Francois Laval, vice-president for sales in Asia, said that prior to the Manila stop, the A380 had visited South America, North America and the Middle East.

Alfonso Cusi, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said he was delighted by Airbus officials' statements saying they were considering Manila as a future destination.

"This (the A380 landing) finally settles doubts if the MIAA can accommodate wide-bodied planes," Mr. Cusi said.

The MIAA head added the next step was make the necessary improvements to the terminal.

"We will make the necessary retrofit adjustments on the airport," he said, referring to the widening of gates to accommodate increased passenger traffic.

To accommodate the arrival of the A380, movements of other planes during the landing were limited but no cancellations or delays happened, Mr. Cusi said.

"It's business as usual," security chief Efren C. Labiang said.

Mr. Manhes said Airbus has received 165 firm orders and 20 commitments from 15 customers.

The airlines with the biggest orders were Emirates, 47; Qantas Airways, 20; Singapore Airlines, 19; Lufthansa, 15; and Air France, 12.

The Airbus officials were tight-lipped as to which local carriers were interested in purchasing the plane.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said it was still looking at its options.

"It's definitely an option in the future, but currently we're still in the process of purchasing seven Airbus (A320) planes," PAL spokesperson Rolando Estabillo said.

This was echoed by Cebu Pacific, which vice-president Candice Iyog said was "still waiting for the delivery of the up to 20 A320 aircraft it ordered."

Copyright 2007 Business World Publishing Corporation, Source: The Financial Times Limited

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