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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
A380 superjumbo lands in Sydney
Singapore Airlines A380 landing in Sydney

The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, has landed in Sydney on its first commercial flight, after a seven-hour journey from Singapore.

Singapore Airlines took delivery of the huge plane, dubbed the Superjumbo, just over a week ago. Passengers bought seats in a charity online auction.

It can carry some 850 passengers, but took about 450 to Sydney.

The superjumbo's advent ends a reign of nearly four decades by the Boeing 747 as the world's biggest airliner.

Delays

The new aircraft suffered almost two years of delays because of a number of construction problems, but took off on time.

Sir Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, is a Superjumbo customer but the project's teething problems led it to defer its order of six aircraft until 2013.

I have never been in anything like this in the air before in my life
Passenger Tony Elwood

One of the passengers on board, Laurence Watts, told the BBC about his experience.

"I'm actually sitting in the economy class on the lower deck of the plane," he said.

"The most amazing thing is here you have two classes of economy, split over two decks, with stairs in between the two, which I think is a huge novelty for everyone.

"The plane itself - the space is bigger than anything you can imagine. I can look out the window to my right at the moment and I can see a wing that looks bigger than most ordinary planes."

Hundreds of staff and passengers at Singapore's Changi Airport watched it lift into the sky, snapping the moment with pocket cameras and camera phones.

Passengers paid between $560 and $100,380 to be on the inaugural flight.

"I have never been in anything like this in the air before in my life," said a fellow passenger, Australian Tony Elwood, who travelled in a private first-class suite with his wife Julie.

"It is going to make everything else after this simply awful."

Australian welcome

With the superjumbo's wing span almost the size of a football pitch, Sydney Airport has spent millions to accommodate the new plane.

To cope with the two decks of seating, it has had to construct new aero bridges.

It has also had to realign one of the taxi ways and strengthen a tunnel which runs underneath the main runway.

Singapore Airlines is now set to take delivery of a further five A380s in 2008, out of its order of 19.

In total, Airbus now has 165 firm orders for the A380, and 20 "commitments" from 15 airlines.

However, some analysts remain unconvinced that the plane will be a success.

Standard & Poor's Equity Research analyst Shukor Yusof points to the fact Airbus' US rival Boeing already has more than 700 orders for its forthcoming 787 Dreamliner.

While Airbus sees the future growth of air travel being focused on larger planes such as the A380 flying between major hubs, Boeing is aiming the mid-sized 787 at more flights between airports of all sizes.

"I see there's some demand for the A380, but it's an expensive way to address a small market," said Mr Yusof.

Boeing's 787 has also been hit by production delays, with the first deliveries now not due until the end of next year, six months behind schedule.


Did you see someone off in Singapore? Did you wait for the plane in Sydney?

Your comments:

I was one of the official photographers for the departure flight from Singapore. I am an aviation enthusiast and this is a moment that I have been waiting for with incredible excitement! When the aircraft began to move down the runway, I felt an incredible tinge of excitement run through my body....it is a moment I will treasure for my whole life.
Andrew Hunt, Singapore

We are a small red dot in South East Asia. During my school days in America, my university friends thought that Singapore is a city in China. We are proud to be given the first new generation plane to operate and to have Sydney as the first place of call reflects close bilateral relationship between Singapore and Australia. History was indeed set today in Singapore and though I wasn't there to witness the giant plane's departure, I feel proud to be a Singaporean.
Willy Teo, Singapore

I watched her approach from my office window at the end of the main runway. Traffic stopped as the lane appeared through the cloud and landed in front of us. We got a great view as she taxied to her stand. Wish I had been in seat 1A!
David Henderson, Sydney

It was a little disappointing that the A380 was unable to do a low level flight down the harbour owing to low cloud and showers however we are experiencing the worst drought ever. It was interesting to hear the air traffic controllers calling the plane "the big fella".
Michael Wilson, Sydney

I come from Toulouse, where the plan is assembled. It has a huge economical impact on my region, a new quarter in Toulouse will built for the plane workers. Lot of my friends work in small firm connected with Airbus.
Olivier, Paris

Well Done Airbus! My husband is part of the team supporting the A380 in Singapore, I'm missing him terribly but I am so proud of him and the team supporting this magnificent aircraft.
Emma Walker, Toulouse

Amazingly we have a huge divide on the same planet. Here in Uganda we have poor folks reeling from the effects of floods and mosquitoes while out there the Airbus makes this historic journey. Gives us hope though that one good day we may share with our better of colleagues on how to tame nature. But don't leave us behind.
Nakwagala Fred, Kampala, Uganda



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