Airbus OKs production of 555-passenger jet

By JOCELYN GECKER

Associated Press

TOULOUSE, France – Airbus Industrie gave final approval today to a plan to build the world’s largest passenger plane, a superjumbo jet that will hold 555 passengers and can come with bars and casinos.

Airbus hopes the new double-decker A380 will give it a competitive edge over the Boeing Co.

“This decision heralds a new era in the history of flight, with the introduction into service of the world’s 21st century jetliner in early 2006,” the company said in announcing that its supervisory board approved the plans today.

So far, Airbus has received 50 firm orders and 42 options for the superjumbo, which will have larger cabins, more floor space and staircases, and can be equipped with bars, casinos and lounges.

“We cannot be more proud of the product we developed,” Manfred Bischoff, chairman of the Airbus supervisory board, said. “We intend to once more set a standard for quality and efficiency.”

The board gave the green light for the $12 billion project at its headquarters in Toulouse in south-central France. The board is made up of top executives from the two companies that are the sole shareholders in the consortium – European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, with an 80 percent holding, and Britain’s BAE Systems, with 20 percent.

The superjumbo will be a direct challenge to Boeing’s dominance of the long-haul, high-capacity market with its fleet of 747s, and it intensifies the rivalry between the two manufacturers, who are banking on conflicting forecasts for air travel in the 21st century.

Airbus says the demand for larger planes is set to grow. It forecasts that the number of airliners in service with 400 seats or more will rise to 1,235 over the 20 years.

Boeing argues that airlines are more interested in smaller planes with the range to bypass major hubs on nonstop flights to mid-sized and smaller cities. Boeing’s biggest jet at the moment is the 747-400, which can carry 416 passengers.

“The announcement today is just another indication of how dynamic the commerical jet transport market is right now,” said John Dern, a Boeing Commercial Airplane Group spokesman in Seattle.

“Airbus is taking one strategic approach and Boeing is taking another, and time will tell,” he said.

“All we can do is what we hear the airlines are telling us and what the data is telling us about how new routes are developing. Passenger preference is for direct nonstop service.”

In 2000, Boeing committed to produce longer-range versions of its 767 and 777 jets, designed to make non-stop flights to smaller cities. This year it received 117 orders for the 777. Boeing also has plans for a stretch version of its 747 jet to seat some 520 people. It has not yet received any orders for the new jet, which it estimates will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion to develop.

Airbus officials had said they needed around 50 firm orders to make the A380 project economically viable – a target it met Friday when Virgin Atlantic Airways announced an order for six jets and options on six others in a deal worth more than $3.8 billion.

The biggest A380 order – 12 planes – came from Australia’s Qantas Airlines Ltd., a Boeing client for more than 40 years. Other firm orders have come from Singapore Airlines, Air France, Emirates Airlines, and the International Lease Finance Corp. Germany’s Lufthansa AG and British Airways are in talks about buying the plane.

Airbus has been gradually closing the gap on Boeing since its creation in 1972, and last year reported significantly more aircraft orders.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.