First commercial A380 flight arrives in Auckland

By James Ihaka

It stands 24m tall, has showers with LCD television screens, lounge areas with bars, and starlit ceilings to help its nearly 500 passengers fight jetlag.

Emirates Airlines' version of the world's biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, touches down in Auckland today to begin a three-times-a-week service to Sydney.

Emirates manager New Zealand and Pacific Islands Chris Lethbridge said New Zealanders would be able to experience the latest in aviation technology with the introduction of the A380.

"The A380 is quieter, more spacious and more environmentally friendly," he said.

Mr Lethbridge said there was tremendous interest in the superjumbo and believed the new era of mass transit would be embraced by New Zealand travellers.

"We have no doubt it will be a great success operating out of Auckland," he said.

While those travelling in either first class or business can enjoy a decent night's sleep on seats that convert into fully flat beds or a beverage from one of the bars, economy-class travellers benefit from 14 per cent more leg room and digital widescreen entertainment with hundreds of channels to choose from.

Each cabin also features an advanced mood lighting system, complete with a starlit sky that adjusts throughout a flight to reflect the time at the destination, and to combat the effects of jetlag.

Despite its vast proportions, Emirates says that the A380 burns up to 20 per cent less fuel than a Boeing 747 and is more fuel efficient than a small family car at 3.1 litres per 100 passenger kilometres.

It generates half the noise of a 747-400 on takeoff and produces 75g of carbon dioxide per passenger km - almost half of the European emissions target for cars manufactured in 2008.

Emirates plans to make the A380 transtasman service daily out of Auckland when it has enough aircraft.

* The inaugural flight is due to touch down in Auckland at 1.30pm today.

SPECIFICATIONS - AIRBUS A380

* Length: 73m.
* Height: 24.1m.
* Wing span: 79.8m
* Maximum cruising speed: Mach 0.89
* Generates less than half the noise of a Boeing 747-400 on take off.

- NZ Herald

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