Los Angeles Welcomes Return of Airbus A380 to LAX

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed the return of Airbus' A380, the world's largest airliner, to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and proclaimed that the airport's terminal facilities will be ready for the next generation of aircraft, thanks to a billion-dollar modernization initiative. The mayor also said that critically needed improvements will continue as LAX competes for international flights of new large aircraft in the coming years.

"Los Angeles is the obvious destination for the first U.S. flights of new large aircraft so it is critical that LAX has the infrastructure necessary to receive them," Villaraigosa says. "We are investing the resources necessary to be ready for next generation aircraft and to preserve LAX's status as a premier international gateway."

LAX is expected to be the first U.S. destination of an A380 passenger flight next year, a service which will be provided by Qantas Airways.

LAX is a dominant gateway for travel to every region in the world and the leading gateway for travel to the Asia/Pacific region, the fastest growing aviation market worldwide. Asia/Pacific carriers account for 40 percent of A380 orders. By 2012, LAX is expected to have 12 daily A380 flights, the most of any airport in North America.

Villaraigosa said just one daily roundtrip, transoceanic flight of an Airbus A380 from LAX, with more than 500 passengers aboard, would have been worth $723 million in economic output, 3,900 jobs and $188 million in wages in 2006, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

In a plane-side briefing on airport readiness prior to a demonstration flight of the A380 (MSN 007), which arrived at LAX Wednesday and will depart Friday morning following visitor tours and airport tests, Mayor Villaraigosa, other city officials and executives of Airbus Americas and Qantas Airways received a status report from Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that owns and operates LAX and three other Los Angeles-area airports.

Lindsey highlighted recently completed and ongoing airfield and terminal improvements that will help to preserve LAX's international gateway status, improve passenger experiences, reduce congestion at existing terminals, and position LAX to effectively compete for new large aircraft flights.

Since the beginning of the Villaraigosa administration, more than $1 billion has been invested in airport modernization projects. The first of these projects was a $723.5 million renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal with major interior upgrades, installation of an in-line checked baggage security system and a second boarding gate for new large aircraft. Another project was the $333 million relocation of runway 25-Left and the construction of a center taxiway on the south side of the airport to reduce the risk of runway incursions, cut aircraft idle times and reduce emissions. The third project involves upcoming construction of a new midfield concourse designed to relieve congestion at existing LAX terminals.

Villaraigosa also noted that the A380 and other next generation aircraft utilize new technologies that will benefit airport neighbors by releasing fewer emissions and reducing noise by 50 percent compared to current large aircraft.

"The City of Los Angeles, Airbus, LAWA and Qantas have been working closely together for a number of years to prepare for the arrival of this remarkable aircraft which will offer both environmental advantages and state-of-the-art passenger comfort and convenience," says Wally R. Mariani, Qantas Airways senior executive vice president, the Americas and Pacific. "The preparation that has been required at LAX has been enormous and we are very excited that Qantas will host the inaugural A380 passenger service to LAX in 2008."

The chairman of Airbus Americas, Allan McArtor, after first visiting LAX with the A380 in March, had promised to bring a fully-outfitted A380 back to LAX.

"Airbus wants to recognize the tremendous progress LAWA has made through the leadership of the Mayor, City Council and Board of Airport Commissioners in preparing LAX for the next generation of environmentally friendly aircraft," McArtor said. "LAX is secured as the premiere A380 gateway to America."

"Since the dawn of the jet age Los Angeles has played a central role in aviation, but we cannot take the city's star status for granted," Villaraigosa adds.

"In order to preserve our premiere international gateway status, we must show air carriers and air travelers that we understand the potential of next generation aircraft and are prepared for the challenges of a changing aviation marketplace," Villaraigosa said. "The return of the A380 to LAX is a significant milestone in our momentous journey."