FORT WORTH, Texas – Qantas is putting the world’s biggest passenger plane on the world’s longest airline route.
A Qantas Airbus A380 touched down Monday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport about 15 hours after leaving Sydney, Australia, on the 8,578-mile journey.
The double-deck, four-engine jet was greeted with a water-cannon salute, then taxied to a two-story gate that was configured just for the behemoth.
The inaugural flight carried a full load of 484 passengers, according to a Qantas spokesman.
DFW is a large airport with connecting flights throughout the U.S. and Latin America, making it ideal for the plane and the route. But the A380’s size also limits its appeal. Smaller planes such as Boeing’s latest, the 787, are more economical on many routes.
Qantas previously flew the Sydney-Dallas route with the Boeing 747, which required a stopover in Brisbane, Australia.
“The 747 served us really well, but it doesn’t have the range of the A380,” said Qantas Senior Executive Vice-President Vanessa Hudson. “The A380 is much bigger, so we can actually now provide 10 per cent additional capacity.”
For travellers wishing to fly the new route, it won’t be cheap. Hudson said tickets are roughly $1,900 in economy; double that for the roomier seats in premium economy; $7,000 for business class; and $12,000 to $13,000 for first class, where the airline tosses in a set of pyjamas and a sheepskin mattress.
The special A380 gate at DFW will be used again on Wednesday, when Gulf airline Emirates begins flying the huge plane between Dallas and Dubai.