Airbus to set down at SFO

The world’s largest airplane will touch down at the busiest airport in the Bay Area on Aug 4.

Emirates Airlines said it will showcase one of its fully outfitted Airbus A380s at San Francisco International Airport in early August. The plane offers 76 business-class seats, 399 seats in economy and 14 first-class suites, the airline said. Airport spokesman Mike McCarron said the plane actually is quieter than the Boeing 747, which is currently the largest plane flying out of SFO. The Airbus A380 entered service just nine months ago.

“The new terminal built eight years ago at [SFO] was build to accommodate the aircraft,” he said.

Emirates Airlines plans to fly the Airbus A380 passenger plane between San Francisco and Dubai within three years, according to airline officials, allowing travelers between the two high-tech epicenters to make the flight on the world’s largest airplane.

The Dubai-based airline already is set to begin daily service on the 16-hour route in November, starting with the smaller Boeing 777. But on Thursday, Emirates expressed interest in adding the double-decker Airbus to the SFO route.

“Emirates’ direct route will create a new, highly convenient opportunity for Bay Area companies to do business in Dubai,” airline executive Nigel Page said in a statement.

To ensure a comfortable fit for the A380, four of the 23 total gates in the International Terminal have been built extra-large, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. Larger baggage carousels and side-by-side loading bridges — to accommodate a larger flow of passenger foot traffic — were also part of the upgrades.

The double-decker aircraft has received much attention, not only for its size, but for what its makers are describing as fuel efficiency proportional to that of a small economy car.

Singapore Airlines, which flies the Airbus A380 to London, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney, Australia, said it plans to begin flights between SFO and Singapore early next year.

The fancy, first-class bedroom suites being offered on Singapore can cost more than $10,000 per flight.

Airbus officials predict that by 2011, the A380 will be ready at more than 70 airports around the world.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

14: First-class suites

76: Business-class seats

399: Seats in economy

239: Feet long

262: Feet wingspan

840: Passenger capacity

13 tons: Cargo capacity

Source: Emirates Airlines

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