A380 is the star at Chile's FIDAE air show
The A380's first appearance in Chile was the highlight of this year's FIDAE (Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio) air show in the capital city of Santiago, underscoring Airbus' growing role in the Latin American airline market.
In addition to its participation in the daily flight demonstrations during FIDAE, the A380 also was on static display, where it was visited by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and National Defence Minister JosÃ© GoÃ±i Carrasco, who were accompanied by Rafael Alonso, Airbus' Senior Vice President - Latin America, Spain and the Caribbean
Speaking to journalists, Alonso said Airbus had a record year in Latin America during 2007, with 126 aircraft sold, plus commitments for another 71. As a result, Airbus now has an all-time high backlog of more than 300 aircraft to be delivered to Latin America customers.
Currently, there are 305 Airbus aircraft flying with 22 Latin American airlines, representing approximately 35 per cent of the in-service fleet. By 2010, this figure is set to rise to 50 per cent, Alonso added.
The A380 displayed at FIDAE was flown to Chile from Airbus' Toulouse, France headquarters. "I am very excited about coming to FIDAE," said Airbus Test Pilot Peter Chandler, who captained the A380's trans-Atlantic flight to Latin America. "Not only is this the first time the A380 has landed in Chile, but it also is my first visit to this beautiful country."
Chandler noted that A380 service to Latin America is planned for the future, with Grupo Marsans of Spain operating the aircraft on routes from Madrid.
In addition to the A380's high-profile participation at this week's FIDAE, conferences held during the event included the Wings of Change - which was sponsored by Airbus. Barry Eccleston, the Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Americas, chaired a panel and gave a presentation on the environment. Lufthansa also organised a session on maintenance.