For its first visit to India, the A380 landed in New Delhi on Sunday 6 May after a smooth nine-hour flight from Toulouse. The aircraft is staying for two days in New Delhi before flying to Mumbai, headquarters of its first Indian customer, Kingfisher Airlines.
The "Gentle Giant" as the Indian media have dubbed it, is coming to India to perform demonstration flights and to help celebrate the second anniversary of Kingfisher Airlines, its first A380 Indian customer. The airline, which has five A380s on order, already operates a fleet of 20 Airbus single-aisle aircraft as well as an Airbus Corporate Jetliner.
In a pattern that has become familiar to the Airbus crews, huge crowds had gathered in and around Indira Gandhi International Airport to watch the A380 do a fly-over, displaying its agility and silent approach before landing. The A380 has already visited more than 40 airports around the globe, demonstrating its ability to take off and land in less distance than other large aircraft and its compatibility with existing airport infrastructure.
The A380 is remaining on static display in New Delhi to allow government, airport and airline officials to visit the aircraft and see for themselves the size and comfort of its cabin. Kingfisher Airlines' employees, who are already familiar with Airbus aircraft, also have also taken this opportunity to get a first-hand experience of the A380 before delivery of their first aircraft.
India has been chosen as the first destination for the A380 world tour to highlight the strategic importance of the country for Airbus. Airbus' 2006 Global Market Forecast predicts India will average an annual passenger traffic growth of 7.7 per cent until 2025, and that there will be a demand for around 1,000 aircraft from Indian carriers in the next 20 years.
Since the first order from Indian Airlines in 1974, Airbus has fostered local partnerships and developed long-standing relationships with Indian carriers. Today, Airbus forms the backbone of the Air India and Indian Airlines fleets. In the single aisle sector, Airbus has grown its market share in India from 70% in 2005 to 75% in 2006.
The A380 can fly non-stop from Delhi to New York, allowing an increase in capacity without an increase in airport slots. In its standard three-class configuration, it offers the largest seats in every class, spacious and comfortable cabins on two decks and technological advantages making it more environmentally friendly and economical for operators.