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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 13:20 GMT
A380 prepares for tour around US
A380 arrives in New York

The Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger plane, is preparing for a tour of the US after touching down in the country for the first time.

With about 500 people on board, the superjumbo arrived in New York from Frankfurt on Monday to be greeted by a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators.

Later it will circle Manhattan before returning to at John F Kennedy airport.

Stops are also planned at a string of airports to which, it is anticipated, the A380 will eventually regularly fly.

Dulles International, the main international airport serving Washington DC, and Chicago's O'Hare Airport are among those on the schedule.

'Sheer magnitude'

The maiden flight to the US - flying between Frankfurt and New York's JFK airport - was billed as the first time it has carried a near-normal number of passengers.

It will be noticed. It is dramatic
Edmund Greenslet
Airline Monitor

However, most were staff of Airbus and German airline Lufthansa.

A second A380, flying under a Qantas flight number, landed later in Los Angeles but without any passengers.

"When you see it fly, even hardened aeroplane hands stop and look,", Edmund Greenslet of trade magazine Airline Monitor told the New York Times.

"It will be noticed. It is dramatic. To see it is to be impressed by its sheer magnitude."

The test flights were being used to monitor everything from how easily the plane docks at the terminal gate to the way the in-flight dining and entertainment services work.

It is also being seen as a public relations exercise for Airbus, given that - despite its popularity with planespotters - no US airline has yet placed an order for the A380.

Job cuts

Airbus has orders for 156 of the planes from 14 carriers, though some have threatened to cancel orders.

A380 arrives in Los Angeles
Welcome to America...

Earlier this month, it said it was suspending work on a freight version of its A380 superjumbo, to focus on the main passenger version of the troubled project.

Delays have dogged the 73m-long A380. Deliveries to Singapore Airlines, its launch customer, are not due until October - two years late.

The delays have already cost Airbus more than $6bn (3.3bn) and the company has warned there could be additional charges to come. The problems are largely behind a recently-announced restructuring programme at Airbus, called Power8, which will see about 10,000 jobs go and several factories sold to partners.

France will be worst hit with 4,300 job losses. Germany will see 3,700 jobs go, while the UK and Spain will see 1,600 and 400 jobs cut respectively.


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