IGI's T-3 welcomes world's largest aircraft -- Airbus A-380

Last Updated 15 July 2010, 14:52 IST

The aircraft with 543 people -- 517 passengers and 26 crew members -- was scheduled to arrive at 2.50 pm but it was delayed by about half-an-hour after pilot decided to take a go around as he could not land in the first attempt as the "visibility was low" because of the rain.

The super-jumbo plane finally landed around 3.30 pm and was accorded a tradition water salute by jet of water from two fire tenders.

"There was heavy rain over the airfield and the previous aircraft had reported that the braking action on the runway was poor to medium and as we came lower, I saw the situation developing and made a decision that it is safer to come back and try again when the rain was a bit less," Captain Samir Murjani, who flew the A-380 from Dubai to Delhi, told PTI.

As the aircraft was taxiing towards the apron area, a dog strayed into the apron area of the terminal where the aircraft was to be docked. The canine was chased away by airport officials before the aircraft reached the designated aerobridge.

With the successful landing, Emirates became the first international carrier to operate a commercial flight of the A-380 on the Indian soil, even though for a one-time trial flight.
In 2007, the double-decker aircraft known for its luxury facilities, had landed at the airport when it was introduced to the world.

Though one would have hoped that A-380, said to be the most economical, be part of the regular flights from Delhi, the airline ruled out any such plans for the near future.
"Today's flight is to celebrate the opening of the terminal building and would not be part of the regular flights originating to from India. This is just a stand-alone flight," Majid Al Mualla, Senior Vice President Commercial Operations West Asia and Indian Ocean said on board the aircraft.
Speaking after landing, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President (Commercial) Richard Vaughan said introducing an Airbus A-380 on Indian route is only expected to fuel the growth in the Indian economy and strengthen ties between India and UAE.
Chief Operating Officer of the Delhi International Airport Limited, Andrew Harrison, said "we are proud of the fact that Delhi airport played host to the world's largest airline. It is a momentous occasion for all us. We have proved that the airport is capable of handling and operating this flight."

The aircraft comes fitted with 14 flat bed First Class private suites with electrically operated doors, 76 fully-flat seats in Business Class -- all with mini bars and aisle access and 427 contoured seats in Economy.

While the First and the Business class occupy the top deck of the aircraft, the lower deck is for Economy.Interestingly, the passengers in the upper deck had to spent a good 20 minutes inside the aircraft after it landed because the aerobridge could not be connected at the right time.

"As we introduce new equipment, new services and new facilities, of course it takes a little while for people to get very confident of what they are doing. But these have helped us to understand where we need additional fine-tuning to ensure this experience is the best possible experience ever," Harrison said when asked about the delay.Emirates has been flying to Delhi since 1985. It operates to 10 destinations and 184 weekly flights.
The premier global carrier had recently placed an order with Airbus for an additional 32 A-380s, taking the total firm order for the airliner to 90. The order is valued at USD 11.5 billion at list prices.

The Emirates currently flies its total of 11 A-380s to destinations like London, Toronto, Bangkok, Paris, Jeddah, Seoul, Sydney and Auckland.An Emirates official said it would fly to Beijing from August 1, to Manchester from September 1 and resume services to New York from October 31.

(Published 15 July 2010, 14:48 IST)

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