British Airways’ first Airbus A380-800 superjumbo flew into the Mid-West on a familiarisation visit.
Shannon will be a diversionary airport for BA’s A380 fleet when the airline commences its North Atlantic routes in September.
Yesterday, BA became the first airline to land an A380 in Shannon although Airbus used the airport for cross-wind training in 2006 during the aircraft’s development.
During the three hour visit, the colossal jet was parked nose-to-nose with the smallest jet the company operates. The A318 business class jet operates through Shannon twice a day between London City and New York.
Speaking on board Capt Mike Blythe said: “The reason we are here ... is to familiarise ourselves with the airport because this is potentially a diversionary airport for us when operating into London.
“We need to be able to manoeuvre the aircraft around and park it safely... the outboard engines and the wingtips extend out over the edge of the runway and taxiways here.”
BA manager for Ireland Simon Daly said: “We are delighted to welcome the new A380 to Shannon Airport, and are looking forward to customers from Ireland being able to experience what this fantastic aircraft has to offer when flights commence from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in September, to Hong Kong in October and to Johannesburg next year.”
Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey said: “Shannon has had many proud firsts over the years and being the first Irish airport to handle the world’s largest passenger aircraft is among them. It is further confirmation of Shannon’s place in the aviation industry.”
While the A380 can carry a maximum of 853 passengers, BA has opted for a four-class configuration with a total of 469 seats.