China's first Airbus A380 takes off
China Southern Airlines has been hogging Chinese aviation's center stage since the first of its five Airbus A380s touched down at Beijing Capital Airport on October 15.
The double-decker completed all the test runs required by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on October 16 and made its first official flight today.
The inaugural flight took off at 10 a.m. this morning from Beijing Capital Airport and landed at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport at 1 p.m.
Apart from journalists, the passengers included Chinese sports superstar, 2.29-meter Yao Ming.
More on CNNGo: China's first Airbus A380 set to fly
This makes Guangzhou-based China Southern, dubbed “World's Most Improved Airline” by Skytrax, the first China domestic carrier and the world’s seventh airline to operate Superjumbo routes, after Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Emirates, Korean Air and Lufthansa.
Tickets sold out
According to Qianjiang Evening News, tickets to China Southern’s “A380 experience flights” between Beijing and Guangzhou (October 17-26) and Beijing and Shanghai (October 27-29) are extremely popular among affluent Chinese travelers -- in particular the luxurious first-class compartment seats.
Many passengers choose them over the normal seats on the same routes, which are a few hundred RMB cheaper. All of the first-class seats on the Beijing-Shanghai flights sold out in early October.
For travelers who still hope to grab a seat, check out China Southern’s official website or call + 86 95539 to try your luck.
A one-way first-class seat costs RMB 4,760 on the Beijing-Guangzhou route, and RMB 3,160 on the Beijing-Shanghai route.
Business class and economy class tickets cost RMB 3,910 and RMB 1,700 respectively for Beijing-Guangzhou, and RMB 2,830 and RMB1,130 for Beijing-Shanghai.
Responses from all parties
China Southern's first A380 carried the company's officials, flight attendants and a number of guests on its delivery trip from France to Beijing.
“Previously, it was difficult [for me] to stretch my legs on any flight, it was not pleasant,” said 1.85-meter Sun Yu, who traveled from France to Beijing. “I have enough legroom on the A380, and the economy class is much more spacious than [a normal aircraft’s].”
“This is the smoothest aircraft I have flown,” commented Liu Qian, captain of the delivery flight. “I have flown [many different aircraft], including Airbus 320, 330, 340 and Boeing 737, 747. The A380’s operating experience has been the best ... it’s almost a bit too quiet.”
China Southern expects delivery of its second and third double-deckers in December and next January.
Beijing Youth reported the company is considering to fly these two A380s on international routes, with Paris as the most likely destination.