British Airways’ first A380 flew into Shannon airport this morning (Tuesday July 30) in preparation for beginning long-haul flights this September. Lucky aircraft spotters joined the crowd to welcome the newest arrival to the BA fleet.
During its three hour visit, the aircraft, the largest in British Airways’ fleet, could be seen alongside the smallest, an A318, which operates a double-daily service from London City to New York’s JFK Airport, stopping briefly in Shannon for refuelling and to allow US immigration pre-clearance.
The aircraft is one of the most technologically advanced passenger planes ever built, much quieter inside and out, with cleaner air, more space and an entertainment system featuring more than 1,600 hours of programming. It is hugely fuel efficient – burning 16 per cent less fuel than the aircraft it replaces. British Airways is welcoming 12 A380s over the next four years, representing part of the airline’s £5bn investment in products and services to benefit customers.
The visit formed part of a process to test the ability of airports in the UK and Ireland to handle the super-sized aircraft in the event of a diversion, as well as building the pilots’ flight training hours.
Flying the aircraft into the airport, Captain Mike Blythe said: “I’ve flown British Airways’ smallest aircraft into Shannon many times, so it’s definitely a new experience to fly the airline’s largest into the airport today. I want to thank everyone here for their warm welcome and for helping to make this a successful visit. ”
Commenting on the arrival, Simon Daly, British Airways Manager for Ireland, said: “We are delighted to welcome the new A380 to Shannon Airport today, and are looking forward to customers from Ireland being able to experience what this fantastic aircraft has to offer when flights commence from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in September, to Hong Kong in October and to Johannesburg next year.”
Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey said: "Shannon has had many proud firsts over the years and being the first Irish airport to handle the world's largest passenger aircraft is among them. It is further confirmation of Shannon's place in the aviation industry. Having British Airways’ A380 at the airport parked beside its smallest aircraft, the A318, is a rare moment for any airport and a great opportunity for aviation enthusiasts across the country who are here in big numbers today."
British Airways offers all-inclusive fares from Ireland that include a generous 23kg baggage allowance, free online check-in and seat selection 24 hours prior to departure.