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Superjumbo heads for Heathrow.

Byline: By Peter Woodman

The world's biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380 superjumbo, was set to head for Heathrow airport today on its first commercial flight to Europe.

A number of Britons were set to be on board the Rolls-Royce powered aircraft due to land at Heathrow just after 3pm.

Operated by Singapore Airlines, the plane, with first-class suites and big-area business class, was departing Singapore's Changi airport in the early hours of today.

Around 470 passengers will be on board although the plane can comfortably take 525 and many more if more economy-class accommodation is required.

Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the A380, whose wings are made in the UK.

Marvin Tan, Singapore Airlines UK and Ireland general manager, said: "The arrival of the first commercial A380 flight to London will be a proud moment not only for Singapore Airlines but also for British aviation, with the magnificent wings of the aircraft made in Broughton (North Wales) and Filton (Bristol) and the plane powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines."

The Far East carrier had to endure a long delay over its first superjumbo due to production difficulties at Toulouse-based Airbus. Singapore Airlines was able to operate the plane's first passenger flight - from Singapore to Sydney, in October.

Today's first flight to London signals the start of regular daily A380 services between Singapore and Heathrow, one of the first airports to create facilities to accommodate the giant aircraft.

A pier has been built at Heathrow's Terminal 3 for the giant which can also land at the new Terminal 5, officially opened by the Queen last week and operational on March 27.

Singapore Airlines - the only carrier flying the A380 - has three of the superjumbos and has firm orders for a further 16, with options on six more.

Dubai-based Emirates has ordered the largest number and will start its services with a Dubai-New York flight on October 1, with the first Dubai-London flight on December 1.

British Airways has ordered 12 A380s with the first in 2012, while Virgin Atlantic will receive the first of its six in 2013.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 18, 2008
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