Airlines are increasingly turning to the world’s largest jetliner to fly long-haul routes to Australia. Asia’s largest airline, China Southern, will join Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines in flying A380s here later this year.
Airbus’ director of product marketing for the A380, Richard Carcaillet, said the double-decker plane was a ‘‘significant solution’’ to helping boost traffic at congested airports.
‘‘Sydney is congested – there is no doubt about that,’’ he said.
‘‘Without the A380, the airport would have been absolutely static and airlines would have lost out on potential growth,’’ he said on Wednesday during a visit to Sydney. Mr Carcaillet cited the impact the arrival of the A380 had on Heathrow Airport, one of the most slot-constrained airports in the world, in boosting passenger traffic.
Some industry watchers have questioned whether airports have made sufficient investments in their terminals to cope with an increase in large planes such as the A380.
But Mr Carcaillet refuted suggestions a lack of terminal gates for A380s would prevent more airlines buying the double-decker plane in the coming years.
‘‘Airports will invest for more A380 gates as they are required,’’ he said.
‘‘The airports see it as a very good business case because for the same [terminal] slot they will have more passengers. It makes excellent business sense for the airports and it is allowing growth to occur.’’
Los Angeles Airport, one of the main gateways to the US, has moved quickly to expand the number of A380 gates from two to about 12 in recent years. ‘‘They have made a massive effort to accommodate A380s,’’ he said.
Sydney and Melbourne airports each have five terminal gates capable of handling A380s, which require aero-bridges to connect terminals to the planes’ top and bottom decks.
In October, Emirates will become the first airline to fly scheduled A380 services to Brisbane Airport, which has just one terminal gate capable of handling superjumbos.
Mr Carcaillet said airlines were likely to increase their use of A380s on routes to Australia.
‘‘Airlines consider Australia as a key destination for large aircraft and it is the case very clearly today with the A380,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a very competitive market. The A380 is a competitive tool for airlines – it is the way to maximise the use of traffic rights and slots.’