Australia’s Qantas Airways today kicked off scheduled service with its new Airbus A380 between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. The first Qantas flight from Melbourne to the U.S. on the jumboliner landed on Runway 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at about 7:30 a.m.
Qantas will fly one daily roundtrip between the city pair in an operation that it estimates will generate $623 million per year in “economic activity,” including “more than 3,000 local jobs and $156 million in wages.” It expects that within four years, LAX will serve more A380 flights than any other airport in North America.
The inaugural A380 flight taxied to LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal for passenger disembarkation before being repositioned for an arrival ceremony at the Flight Path Learning Center at the LAX Imperial Terminal, where a Boeing 707, the first passenger jet from the U.S. manufacturer, was parked alongside in the airline’s original livery. A ceremony to commemorate the first flight included a speech by actor/pilot John Travolta, who also serves as a Qantas ambassador. This first Qantas A380 service to the U.S. will be complemented by flights from Sydney to Los Angeles beginning on Friday, before the airline inaugurates A380 operations to Singapore and London.
Qantas has ordered 20 Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered A380s, which will be configured for 450 passengers. The airplane has 14 first-class seats, 72 business-class seats, 32 “premium economy“ seats and 332 economy-class seats. Now the second-largest customer after Dubai’s Emirates Airline, Qantas was the first to conclude contract signing for the A380 in November 2000 with an initial order for 12 aircraft–its first from the European manufacturer. Including low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, the Qantas group now has ordered 110 aircraft directly from Airbus.