The world’s busiest airport now has regular service on the world’s biggest commercial passenger plane.
That’s after Korean Air inaugurated A380 service this week between Atlanta and Seoul on its Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.
The airline’s first A380 flight to Atlanta arrived this past Sunday. But airport and airline officials saved the official welcoming fanfare for Friday morning, when Korean’s A380 received a water-cannon salute (see photo) and ribbon-cutting ceremony upon arriving in Atlanta. A Korean Air spokeswoman tells Today in the Sky that airport and airlines officials opted to stage the celebration Friday, instead of during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Korean Air has been flying to Atlanta since December 1994, but has decided to upgauge its flights on the route to its bigger A380s.
“The arrival of the Airbus A380 underscores the prominence of Atlanta as a gateway city and a competitor in global markets,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says in a release. “We’re pleased that Korean Air has chosen to introduce travelers to its A380 service to Seoul.”
ARCHIVES: Freshly painted: Korean Air shows off its first Airbus A380 (Feb. 2011)
LOCAL REPORT: Atlanta celebrates A380 super-jumbo jet (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
To accommodate the plane’s size, the Atlanta airport had to widen two runways and three taxiways by a total of more than 855,000 square feet. The airport also had to install new passenger loading bridges that could accommodate the double-decker plane.
“We’ve spent several months making a number of enhancements to airport facilities in preparation for the arrival of the world’s largest aircraft,” Louis Miller, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s general manager, says in the statement. “We see these improvements as part of the growth process inherent in being the world’s busiest airport.”
With its arrival, Atlanta notes it becomes only the fourth U.S. city to offer A380 service to Asia. A number of other U.S. airports, however, host at least seasonal A380 service on trans-Atlantic routes. Among those are New York JFK, Washington Dulles and Miami.
Korean Air initially will fly the A380 three times a week between Atlanta and Seoul, with a brief cessation of A380 service during the second half of September. The A380 flights will resume in early October and will become daily on Oct. 27, a Korean Air spokeswoman tells Today in the Sky.
“Our A380 flight is a game changer for the region,” John Jackson, Korean Air’s VP of marketing for the Americas, says in a statement. “We now offer service to Asia from Atlanta that no one else can meet. Our aircraft is roomier, quieter and more comfortable than any other serving the Southeast. Our traffic between Atlanta and Seoul has been growing at 10% per year and it makes good sense to invest in markets that are showing long-term growth.”
ARCHIVES: Korean Air promises ‘the most spacious A380 anywhere’ (Oct. 2010)
ARCHIVES: World’s ‘most-spacious A380’ now flying at LAX (Oct. 2011)
Korean Air boasts that its superjumbo A380s offer the most spacious seating of any carrier flying the jet. With just 407 seats on its A380s, Korean Air says that “provides more space per passenger,” especially as “compared to more than 450 seats on other carriers’ (A380) planes.”
Korean Air’s A380s feature 12 Kosmo First Class suites, 94 lie-flat sleeper seats and 301 coach seats.