10:52 PM

A380 preps in the Golden State

A story now circulating shows that California airports are ramping up to receive the Airbus A380, the massive 555-pax airliner that somehow actually…flies.

The SFO guys are crowing:

While Southern California officials dickered during the last decade about how to modernize LAX, San Francisco built a gleaming $1 billion international terminal that was specifically designed to accommodate the new Airbus super-jumbo jet. The stark contrast between San Francisco International Airport and LAX — which plans to modify two gates for the double-decker plane at the already cramped Tom Bradley International Terminal — has led to speculation that San Francisco will woo A380 flights away from LAX.
It appears that Airbus is trying really hard to try and give LAX a fair shake…but Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus North America, laid it out straight for L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and airport officials:
“If airlines feel like they are not going to be able to be accommodated, then they’ll start looking at other airports. It’s no secret that San Francisco is delighted to entertain any of these carriers. Once they move there and get the maintenance and the ticket counters and ground handling, it’s very difficult to get that route back.”
Jane’s is reporting that Airbus’ McArtor has warned that the Los Angeles economy could suffer if the needed construction at LAX becomes snarled in delays or the airport is unable to handle the volume of A380 flights with its two retrofitted gates. “We’ve seen a couple carriers already decide to move some early A380 routes to San Francisco because of lack of confidence that LAX can handle an A380,” he said.

There have been some movements at LAX that would suggest they are at least moving forward. This month, Los Angeles began converting four existing remote boarding gates into two gates, and modifying two others to accommodate the A380. The $7.4 million project will create four remote A380 gates, that can also continue to serve the B747, with completion due in February 2007. Work is also underway to modify two gates with dual-level boarding bridges at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Back to the A380. Do you really want to be passenger #555, and wait while they board 554 other people, carry-ons, babies, strollers, ice chests full of fish, etc. But even more pressing is this question: ARE THEY SURE this thing really flies?

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