Europe's new A380 SuperJumbo jet airliner is already causing much concern in large and small airports around the world. The new plane with a wingspan of 262 feet and capable of carrying over 550 passengers is said to have room for such amenities as shopping malls, casinos, and bars. In the United States, only Los Angeles International and Chicago's O'haire can handle the ungainly new Airbus.
Benedum Field, a tiny commuter airport in rural West Virginia, is scrambling to make ready for the new Airbus. "Our present runway can handle one set of Airbus wheels. We figure that if we build a parallel runway, that SuperJumbo might just be able to get in here. Then we have to figure out some reason that 550 people would all want to come here at the same time."
In Washington DC, plans are being made to remove the 14th Street Bridge so that the new Airbus will be able to take off from Ronald Reagan Airport and not drag its wheels on the bridge.
The 1.2 million pound SuperJumbo Airbus will never be able to visit many of the landing strips in Alaska. "Maybe if we put down a few more inches of gravel…" said Maggie O'Connell a local bush pilot.
French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero unveiled the new Airbus in Toulouse yesterday. The development of the plane was paid for by millions of European taxpayers who would rather walk or ride bicycles.
Virgin Atlantic's spunky egomaniac Richard Branson, whose airline has put in an order for six of the supersized jets disclosed plans to install a gym, a larger bar, a beauty parlor, and even a casino and double beds on his planes "so at least you'll have two ways of getting lucky."
Boeing is not competing with Airbus in supersized jets; the Americans think the airline future lies in using slightly smaller aircraft to fly more routes. In 2008 it is expected to roll out its largest passenger plane, the Boeing 7E7, with a seating capacity of up to 250 and a range of 15,000 kilometers. Can you say "loser"?
Airbus, on the other hand, thinks its A380 is the wave of the future - fuel efficient, environment friendly, quicker and more comfortable for passengers. And how about those blackjack tables??
"We like this great big new airplane!
Isn't Allah great?"