The world's largest passenger jet, Airbus A380, will make its long-awaited landing Monday at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as part of its U.S. debut, officials in Los Angeles said. The landing at LAX on Monday morning is scheduled to coincide with another A380 touchdown at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The European airplane maker is using the U.S. test flights to burnish its image after technical problems led to a two-year delivery delay. Airbus' woes have helped its U.S. rival Boeing sell more planes, including an updated version of its 747 jumbo that Airbus had hoped would fade away when it introduced the A380. Boeing sold a record number of airplanes last year and surpassed Airbus in orders for the first time since 2000.
Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates LAX, has spent more than 49 million dollars on a variety of projects to accommodate A380s, and another 72 million dollars will be spent incoming years. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Airbus officials are expected to hold a news conference at the airport after the super-jumbo jet makes its landing. With a double-decked cabin and a wingspan nearly the length of a football field, A380 can carry more than 800 passengers in an all economy-class configuration, or 555 with first-class and business seating. Airbus officials had originally said that they would fly the A380 only to New York, and then on to Chicago, bypassing Los Angeles altogether. The decision led to some last-minute negotiations between the city and the plane maker.