Manston Airport is due to welcome the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft this summer.
British Airways’ first Airbus A380, a double-decked four Rolls Royce engine jet, will arrive at Manston for a period of training in preparation for its launch into service later in the year.
Once the A380 training is complete, the airline’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner will also make its way to Manston for part of its ‘entry into service’ programme.
Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport, said: “We are thrilled that the UK’s leading airline chose Manston as the place to carry out its ‘entry into service’ programme. Essentially, this means that training for both the pilots and cabin crew will be taking place over three weeks with the aircraft departing from here once or twice a day and also staying overnight.”
The A380 also has the lowest cost per seat and the lowest emissions per passenger of any large aircraft. Despite having almost 50 per cent more floor space and 60 per cent more headroom than the Boeing 747-400, it is 50 per cent quieter on take off.
Dave Thomas, British Airways’ head of flight technical and training, commented: “With one of the longest runways in the UK, Manston offers ideal facilities for our programme. We are looking forward to working with the staff who have been very helpful throughout the preparation period.”
British Airways has 12 A380s on order with flights due to start between London and Los Angeles in October.
Charles Buchanan continued: “This programme is the culmination of months of hard work and is the latest development in a very successful year for the airport. I am very proud that we will be playing our part in bringing such a fantastic aircraft into service.”
The announcement comes just two months after KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launched a twice-daily service from Manston to hub airport Schiphol, linking Kent with 130 destinations worldwide. Flights will continue as scheduled throughout British Airways’ entry into service programme.