LAX- Can it Handle the A380?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Can airports accommodate the A380?
The Los Angeles (CA) Times

One problem with Airbus’ new A380: It pushes the envelope on maximum size for a commercial airplane. International airport standards call for no plane to exceed 80 meters in length and width. The A380’s wingspan is 79.8 meters, or 262 feet. It is so much larger than any other aircraft that most airports face the daunting prospect of making design changes.

For example, six airlines plan to put Los Angeles International on their first flight routes for the A380. Carriers worry that the airport might not have enough gates for the plane; airport officials said they are committed to having at least two A380 gates next year.

Currently, if two A380s parked side by side at Los Angeles’ existing gates, the wings would touch. San Francisco International Airport has redesigned a terminal to accommodate A380s, hoping to lure flights away from Los Angeles.

If major airports are slow to support the plane, airlines might hesitate to buy more. Airbus said it must sell 250 planes to break even; some analysts believe the company must sell 325 to cover its investment.