Airbus A380 assembly facility in Toulouse, France, was formally inaugurated by French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin today, at a ceremony attended by more than 3000 guests, including customers, government officials, suppliers and employees.
The ceremony celebrated and thanked those who contributed to the building of the Airbus A380. It took place inside the facility - named to honour the memory of Jean-Luc Lagardère, co-Chairman of Airbus shareholder EADS at the time of A380 launch.
Beginning with a brief programme history, the event included speeches by Prime Minister Raffarin and Airbus President and CEO Noël Forgeard - plus the opening of giant curtains to reveal the first structural-test A380 in its assembly jigs. Both leaders also signed a commemorative plaque.
"Our thanks go to all those who, since the beginning of this adventure, are each day transforming the Airbus A380 vision into a reality, and especially to our customers, our employees, our shareholders, government officials and all our partners and suppliers" says Noël Forgeard. "The Airbus A380 completes  and in what an impressive way "the most modern and complete family of civil aircraft."
The Airbus A380 assembly building is one of the largest in the world, measuring 490m by 250 m, with a height of 46 m. It is the largest of several buildings on the site which, together, incorporate more than 32,000 tonnes of steel ? the equivalent of four Eiffel towers or the Millau viaduct - plus 250,000 cubic metres of concrete.The Airbus A380 is the world?s newest and largest airliner, and will seat 555 passengers in first, business and economy class on ranges of up to 8,000 nm/15,000 km, allowing it to fly non-stop from Europe to Asia, North America and South America. An A380 Freighter carrying up to 150 tonnes of cargo is also available.
Eleven prestigious carriers have already ordered 129 Airbus A380s, highlighting the programme's strikingly successful launch. Passengers will be able to fly in the Airbus A380 from 2006, when it is due to enter airline service. The Airbus A380 is the only modern aircraft design in the valuable 400-plus seat market, in which it has already established strong market leadership.
Airbus designs, builds and supports the world's most modern and comprehensive airliner family, with different sizes and ranges to match every airline need in the market above 100 seats. It unites 50,000 aerospace employees, mainly in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.