S.F. Airport Set for A380 Next Year; LAX to Alter Two Gates

The stark contrast between San Francisco Int'l Airport and LAX has led to speculation that San Francisco will woo A380 flights away from LAX.

Armin Catrina, Lufthansa's general manager for operations for North and South America, said his airline, which intends to fly the A380 to LAX in 2008, would reconsider those plans if the planes had to park at the inconvenient gates. "That would be a problem for us," he said.

LAX officials say they are working on improving gates at other terminals so carriers will not be forced to use the remote gates.

"We will be able to provide excellent passenger service," Kennard said.

In addition to a reconfigured gate on each end of the Bradley terminal, airport officials want to build new gates on the back of the facility for the A380 and other new large aircraft, such as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which will seat up to 330. A proposal to construct those gates died last year when the city shelved its $11-billion plan to modernize LAX. Officials hope to revive it this year.

In the race to get the first A380 service in the U.S., however, Los Angeles airport officials say LAX does have some advantages that SFO lacks.

"What we have over San Francisco is the market. We just have to push to get our facilities in place," said Michael DiGirolamo, a deputy executive director at the city airport agency.

In another advantage for Los Angeles, airlines pay about $6.50 for every passenger who boards a plane at LAX, compared with $15.75 in San Francisco -- a major consideration for the cash-strapped industry.

LAX also has generally good weather and fewer delays.

San Francisco has stubborn fog that can cause delays because the airport's closely spaced, parallel runways cannot be fully used in bad weather.

In addition, LAX has a complicated web of connecting flights that would be difficult to replicate at SFO.

But if the airlines are motivated to move their flights, officials said, new connections can be created by offering incentives to partner airlines.

"They thought the movie business would be here forever," McArtor, the Airbus executive, said on a recent visit to Los Angeles. Referring to filming lured away by other states and nations, he added, "But they created an environment that made movie production go somewhere else, and it's not likely to ever come back."


Comparing terminals

San Francisco's international terminal is the equivalent of 35 football fields. How it stacks up against LAX's Tom Bradley International terminal:

SFOLAXSquare footage2.5 million1 millionTicket counter positions168188Immigration booths8268A380-ready gates60Baggage carousels128Total terminal gates2412

Sources: San Francisco International Airport, LAXTEC Corp.


Doing the heavy lifting

International air terminals must upgrade their facilities to handle the double-decker Airbus A380. Here's how the aircraft compares with the 747.

Airbus A380

Passengers: 555

Length: 239 ft., 3 in.

Wingspan: 261 ft., 1 in.

Max. takeoff weight: 1,235,000 lbs.


Boeing 747

Passengers: 416

Length: 231 ft., 10 in.

Wingspan: 211 ft., 5 in.

Max. takeoff weight: 875,000 lbs.

Sources: Boeing Co., Airbus

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