Korean Air has become the sixth A380 operator worldwide and the first in North East Asia with today’s introduction of revenue service with its initial 21st century flagship from Airbus.
Specially designated with the flight number “KE380” to mark this event, Korean Air’s A380 took off from Seoul's Incheon International Airport at 09h10 local time for the flight to Tokyo Narita International Airport, reaching its destination at 11h30 local time. The aircraft departed Narita less than two hours later for the return, and was scheduled to serve its second destination later in the day on the Seoul-Hong Kong route.
To celebrate the inaugural flight, passengers were treated to special souvenirs, including A380 models, USB memory cards and A380 route map memo pads. Surprise gifts also were hidden in certain seats’ pockets aboard the aircraft, including a free ticket for a future A380 flight.
Korean Air has ordered 10 A380s, with the first five scheduled for delivery by the end of 2011, and the remaining five by 2014. The airline initially will operate the aircraft on service to selected Asian destinations, with Bangkok following Tokyo and Hong Kong in July. This will be expanded by long-haul services to major destinations in Europe and North America, including New York-JFK in August, Paris in September and Los Angeles in October.
Korean Air's A380 already is gaining wide attention for its very spacious cabin layout, with just 407 seats in three classes – compared with a typical three-class layout of 525 seats. This is the lowest seat count yet specified on the A380. The main deck features 12 ultra luxurious First Class Kosmo Suites and 301 Economy Class, while the upper deck is dedicated to business class with 94 fully lie-flat Prestige Sleeper seats.
Among the special on-board amenities, the Korean Air A380’s upper deck has a full bar and separate lounge for premium passengers, while the main deck includes the world's first “Duty Free Showcase,” where passengers can browse for their favourite duty-free products.