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Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Wednesday, 1 September 2010 17:42 UK
Why the Airbus A380 is a big deal for Manchester
Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 touched down in Manchester on 1 September 2010

The arrival of the world's biggest commercial airliner in Manchester certainly grabbed the headlines.

At the airport, hundreds of staff joined thousands of plane spotters to watch the twin deck aircraft touch down for the first time [1st Sept 2010].

But why is the A380 such a big deal for Manchester and the North West?

Its supporters say the A380 has put Manchester Airport on the map and boosted the economy. Critics, however, have dubbed it "a green monster."


Capable of carrying up to 800 passengers, the development of the Airbus A380 is something of a revolution in the airline industry.

2: number of showers on board
239: length in feet
800: passengers that can be carried
1,000: jobs secured by the A380 at Broughton
£3,000: the price of a first class return to Dubai
£7.5bn: the value of A380 work placed in the UK

To accommodate such a big plane, Manchester Airport has spent more than £10m on new fire engines, a new aircraft stand and two bridges to connect the super jumbo to the terminal.

It's a major investment that puts it an elite group of the world's top 17 airports big enough to take an airliner of this size.

Which is why both the airport and Emirates were keen to celebrate the arrival of Manchester's first A380 complete with luxury features like on-board showers for its first class passengers.

Maurice Flanagan, vice chairman of the Emirates Airline and Group said he was confident that bookings for the A380 would prove that it was money well spent.

''The A380 is proving to be a big hit with our customers," he said.

"Our advance bookings are already 20% up from the same period last year,'' he said.


Emirates will be operating two daily services to Dubai from Manchester - one of them serviced by the new A380.

For Manchester Airport, it's the culmination of nearly ten years' work.

Airbus A380
Airport fire engines welcomed the plane with a water spray

It had to secure Civil Aviation Authority approval to take the super jumbo which has involved widening taxiways, re-aligning junctions and turns and moving dozens of runway signs so the giant plane can pass safely.

The airport's managing director Andrew Cornish said it was a "proud day" for Manchester.

''A lot of hard work and planning has gone into the arrival from many people and we're pleased that we can now accept the newest type of aircraft flying today.''


So what's different about the A380 apart from its size?

It's quieter for a start and more fuel efficient than many of its older rivals. But there are still concerns about its impact.

Supporters say it's a greener aircraft and moving large numbers of people on one journey is a better way forward.

It's a green monster not a green dream, it's as simple as that.
Jeff Gazzard, Manchester Airport Environment Network

But critics have claimed the move towards this kind of super jumbo will ultimately have a negative environmental effect.

Jeff Gazzard runs the Manchester Airport Environment Network. He disputed the aircraft's green credentials.

"The flight to and from Dubai will make 800 tonnes of CO2. Its fuel efficiency is actually 10.4 miles per gallon.

"That isn't fuel efficient: it's a green monster not a green dream, it's as simple as that."


Wings for the giant A380 are made at the Airbus factory at Broughton near Chester.

They have to be shipped by special barge along the Dee for final assembly in France.

Nigel Harvey, head of operations for the A380 at Broughton said its arrival was extremely important in terms of employment.

"It's created an awful lot of jobs within the local community," he said. "It's secured jobs for about 1,000 people here within the factory."

Emirates is one of Airbus's best customers with twelve A380s in its fleet and a further 78 on order.

'Mark Barclay, Airbus senior vice-president, said it was also big business for the British economy.

"On the A380 programme, work valued at over £7.5 billion has already been placed in the UK," he said.

"Over the lifetime of the programme this is set to more than double.''

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