From: Reuters
Published March 17, 2008 10:30 PM

Singapore's A380 superjumbo starts London route

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The world's biggest passenger plane left Singapore for London on Tuesday, marking the Airbus <EAD.PA> A380's first commercial flight to Europe.

The Singapore Airlines flight, carrying 449 passengers, lifted off the tarmac at 9.20 a.m. (9:20 p.m. EDT) from Changi Airport, and will reach Heathrow Airport on Tuesday at about 11:05 a.m. EDT.

Passengers paid between S$2,000 ($1,447) and S$20,000 to be the first on the superjumbo's new daily service, which will take off on its return flight on the same day.

The national carrier launched the first A380 flight to Sydney with much fanfare, as passengers bid between $560 and $100,380 for tickets as part of a charity auction to drum up publicity.

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Among the passengers on Tuesday's flight were 17 customers who had been on the inaugural flight to Sydney, wearing custom-made polo shirts with "A380" emblazoned across the back.

"It's an experience, it's something special in my life, something that gets me away from my job and my desk," said Nicolas Dirac, a 32-year-old Swiss national who works as a computer professional at a pharmaceutical firm.

Singapore Airlines now has three superjumbos in service, with further 16 on order and options for six more, and is planning to put the aircraft on daily flights to Tokyo from May 20.

The first two A380s that were delivered to Singapore Airlines since October are making daily flights between Singapore and Sydney.

The superjumbo -- which boasts two passenger decks and, in the Singapore Airlines version, first-class suites with proper beds -- had suffered two years of delays caused by wiring glitches, which pushed the European planemaker into a loss and led to 10,000 lost jobs.

(Reporting by Daryl Loo; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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