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Friday May 21, 2010

Joburg is Lufthansa jet's route of choice

The German carrier Lufthansa has chosen Joburg as one of its first three cities to be served by its giant new Airbus A380 passenger jet.

The decision was seen as a reflection of the growing importance of South Africa as a business and tourism destination.

Lufthansa took delivery this week of the first of 15 of the massive new airliners, which can each carry between 500 and 800 passengers. The European-made liner is the biggest passenger jet built so far, dethroning the American-made Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which revolutionised air transport nearly 40 years ago.

The A380 which was delivered to Frankfurt yesterday will make its maiden long-haul flight to South Africa on June 7, bringing the German national soccer squad to the World Cup.

It will then be deployed to the Tokyo route. A second aircraft will be deployed to the Beijing route and on October 25, the A380 will begin service to Joburg.

Lufthansa is the fifth airline to take delivery of the new "superjumbo" and the second airline to deploy it to Africa.

Other airlines which have the craft are Singapore Airlines, Air France, Qantas and Emirates. Air France launched its A380 service to Joburg earlier this year.

Because of its massive size, some airlines have introduced such novelties as private showers in first class, private sleeping cabins and bars.

Lufthansa, however, has followed a more low-key approach in its 525 passenger configuration - although the first-class cabin is restricted to just eight passengers who will enjoy the benefits of more spacious lavatories and changing areas.

While the A380 is the world's newest large aircraft, it has been on the drawing boards for more than 20 years.

Engineers began working on the project in secret in 1988 in an attempt to break the dominance that Boeing had enjoyed for decades. The Airbus strategy has been to market the A380 as an ideal aircraft to absorb growing traffic at congested airports which have run out slots for further aircraft.

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