Super plane lands at OR Tambo

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Johannesburg - The World's largest passenger aircraft, Air France-KLM's A380, flight number AF995 successfully landed at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) said this is the second time the A380 has landed at the airport.

The first time was in November 2006, when its manufacturer, Airbus Industries, was testing it..

Air France-KLM is the first airline to use the aircraft at the Johannesburg airport.

"I still recall the spectacular landing of this mammoth airplane in 2006 for the test flight, today's touch-down was equally magnificent," said ACSA spokesperson Solomon Makgale.

"Congratulations to Air France-KLM and to everyone involved in making this possible. The aircraft will become a regular feature in our operations at the airport and I am confident that we will be able to handle it without any hassles," he said.

As part of upgrading the airport, ACSA invested more than R200 million to make the airport compliant with new, large-aircraft requirements by doing shoulder and taxiways upgrades, developing new aprons, longer baggage belts, and larger passenger holding and boarding gates.

Depending on the configuration, the A380 can carry 30 per cent more passengers than a Boeing 747.

Makgale said the A380 will enable the efficient use of the airport's infrastructure, particularly during busy periods such as the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup as fewer aircraft can be used to carry more passengers.

"Being able to accommodate the A380 is yet another demonstration of our readiness for the prestigious 2010 FIFA World Cup," he said.