MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) plans to use the Airbus A380 super jumbo jetliner for its long-haul and high-passenger capacity flights to Europe and Australia.
Managing director Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahlan said the national carrier would use the A380 for services to London, Amsterdam and Sydney.
“As many large airports around the world are facing congestion, we hope the deployment of the large-capacity A380 will enable us to maximise our airport slot usage,” he told reporters at the unveiling of the A380 in Toulouse on Tuesday.
The A380 is the only airliner with double decks. It will be the largest passenger aircraft in the world once it enters service next year.
The plane has the capacity to carry 555 passengers in three classes. It can accommodate about 20% to 25% more passenger seats than the Boeing 747, currently the largest passenger airliner in service.
MAS' parent company, Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd, signed a memorandum of agreement with Airbus in 2003 to buy six A380 aircraft for a total of US$1.6bil.
MAS is expected to take delivery of two A380s in early 2007, a third in late 2007 and the remaining three in the second half of 2008.
At present, MAS uses the Boeing 747, which has a passenger capacity of about 400, for its long-haul flights to Europe and Australia.
Ahmad Fuaad said MAS did not plan to phase out the older and smaller capacity Boeing 747 in favour of the A380. “We will continue to use the Boeing 747s as they are our long-haul workhorses,” he said.
At present, MAS operates three daily flights to London from KL International Airport. “We may consider using two A380s and one Boeing 747 for the job,” he added.
Ahmad Fuaad also said MAS would make passenger comfort a priority in designing the seating layout of the A380.
“Although the A380 is designed for 555 seats, we may consider reducing the number in our A380s to provide more space to our passengers,” he said.
Ahmad Fuaad said MAS had started pilot training and MALAYSIA AIRPORTS HOLDINGS BHD had begun upgrading infrastructure at KLIA to accommodate the new plane.
Among those present at the unveiling of the A380 were French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Airbus has secured 149 orders for the A380, of which 122 are for passenger airliners and the remaining 27 for freighters.
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