Big jets a necessity, official says

Associated Press

SINGAPORE – Giant jetliners such as Airbus Industrie’s planned A3XX will soon be an economic necessity because of a growing number of international travelers, the chief of the world body for airlines said today.

“The way the market is going, we’re going to continue to need bigger planes,” Pierre Jeanniot, director of the International Air Transport Association, told reporters in Singapore. “This airplane (the A3XX) is required, there’s no doubt about that.”

It is difficult and costly for major hub airports to build more plane space and runways, Jeanniot said.

“Therefore, rather than have five 747s a day between these points, we’ll end up with three A3XXs,” he said.

Jeanniot, whose association is based in Geneva, was in Singapore to deliver a lecture to local officials on the future of the aviation industry.

Singapore Airlines last week joined several other carriers in placing orders for the A3XX, which is scheduled to enter service by 2005. Seating at least 555 people, it will be the biggest passenger plane ever flown and may feature bars, restaurants and other amenities.

The orders were a setback for the Boeing Co. The 747, which carries just over 400 people, has long been the largest passenger jet, dominating the big-plane market, and Boeing has offered an expanded version as an alternative to the A3XX

“They may be able to come close to the same capacity” as the A3XX, Jeanniot said, “or they may, in a few years from now, decide that they will build a bigger airplane – maybe even bigger than what Airbus is doing today.”

The A3XX will be a particular boon on popular routes such as Singapore-London, Paris-New York and Tokyo-London, Jeanniot said.

Engineers for Seattle-based Boeing spent more than a year in the mid-1990s studying whether the company should build an all-new superjumbo but dropped the plan after deeming it impractical.

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