6 Airlines Flying Jumbo With A380

PARIS ( TheStreet) -- Slowly, the world's airlines are warming to the Airbus A380.

Four years after the jumbo A380 was introduced, the plane, whose wingspan stretches more than 261 feet, is flown by a half dozen airlines.

The latest is Korean, which began service last week.

Three others Asian carriers are in line for the aircraft. They include China Southern Airlines, which will take delivery later this year, as well as Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways, with deliveries set for next year.

Demand for very large airplanes clearly exists. Boeing ( BA), in its current market outlook issued June 16, said very large aircraft will account for 3% of the world's fleet in 2030, down from 4% today, but the fleet will be far larger. Boeing's principal competitor to the A380 will be the new 747-8, which will seat 467 passengers.

So far, no U.S. carrier has indicated any interest in the A380.

Read on for a look at the six carriers currently flying the aircraft.

Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the A380.

Late in 2007, Singapore became the first airline to fly the A380. It currently has a dozen of them, operating from Singapore to Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Paris, London and, as of July 1, Los Angeles.

In operating the A380, Singapore has sought out new luxuries, including double-bed cabins in first class and extra wide seats in business class. Business class seats are 35 inches wide. In coach, seat width is 19 inches, or two inches wider than normal.

Singapore also researched sleep patterns in connection with the introduction of the A380, since its passengers said a good night's sleep is a major concern. A big distraction, the airline found, is ambient cabin light. As a result, the lights were relocated from the ceiling to the lower edge of the video monitor, increasing cabin dimness.

Singapore operates the aircraft with 471 seats.

Lufthansa began Frankfurt-Miami A380 service on June 10. The airlines has served that particular market for more than 30 years.

"Lufthansa's A380 service elevates MIA into an elite class of airports worldwide that are capable of receiving this groundbreaking aircraft," said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Jose Abreu, in a prepared statement.

Miami became Lufthansa's sixth A380 destination. Lufthansa also flies the A380, configured with 526 seats, from Frankfurt to Beijing, Johannesburg, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.

The airline has ordered fifteen A380s, all scheduled for delivery by 2015, which will make it the largest European A380 operator.

Lufthansa operates the aircraft with 526 seats.

Qantas took delivery of its first A380 in September 2008.

The Australian carrier now has six A380s and expects to have 20 by 2015.

It operates the A380 on from Melbourne and Sydney to Los Angeles, as well as from Melbourne and Sydney to London via Singapore.

It configures the aircraft with 450 seats.

Emirates Airlines was the first to order the A380.

The carrier, based in Dubai, seems to like the airplane: it operates 12 of them and has orders for 78 more.

Destinations include London Heathrow, Manchester, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Toronto, Bangkok, Seoul, Jeddah, Beijing, Hong Kong and New York. San Francisco is on the drawing board for 2012, and Los Angeles is also a potential destination.

Emirates A380s have a shower spa and seating ranging from 489 to 600 passengers.

Air France recently began A380 service from its Paris hub to Miami as well as to Washington Dulles.

The carrier operates six A380s to Paris, New York Kennedy, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Montreal and Dulles. It has 12 more aircraft on order.

Air France says that about 55% of its passengers to Kennedy are connecting from cities throughout Europe. It says that the lower deck, with 247 seats, is the size of a Boeing 777-200, while the upper deck with 275 seats is the size of an A340-300.

Korean Air is the latest customer to take delivery of the A380.

Korean formally took possession of its first A380 on Thursday, June 16, and began service the next day, operating a round- trip flight from Incheon, north of Seoul, to Japan Narita, followed by a round-trip from Incheon to Hong Kong. It has ordered 10 aircraft.

Unlike other carriers, Korean devotes the upper deck solely to business class.

Korean operates the aircraft with 407 seats, the fewest of any operator.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed .

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