Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that Airbus and Qantas Airways officials have agreed to make Los Angeles International Airport a high-profile stop for one of its new Airbus A380's first visits to the United States.


The Tuesday announcement comes a few days after Airbus' parent company, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., said that despite $9 million in upgrades LAX spent to accommodate the new jet, the A380 would not be making a stop at LAX, sending local airport officials and politicians into a frenzy.


The landing is now set to take place on Monday, March 19.


Two separate A380 aircraft will land at LAX and at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, allowing both coasts to catch a glimpse of the high-tech jet and capitalize on the expected media rush.


While at LAX, the crews will test airfield maneuvering, docking at a terminal gate, and ground-handling services and equipment including fueling, the mayor said.


The A380 will be the biggest passenger plane in the world, with a wingspan of almost 262 feet, nearly the size of a football field. Moreover, the height of the double-deck jet is more than 79 feet, equivalent to an eight-story building. Although the plane can accommodate 800 passengers, Qantas is configuring its A380 fleet with three-class service and a capacity of approximately 500.


"LAX is the premier West Coast international gateway with more daily flights to Pacific Rim countries than any other U.S. airport. LAX is expected to be among the top airports in the world with A380 service," Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners President Alan Rothenberg said in a statement.


Airport officials anticipate that by the year 2010, international airlines flying from LAX may be operating up to 10 A380 flights daily.


According to officials, during the past two years LAX has spent more than $51 million preparing the airfield and its terminals to accommodate next-generation aircraft, like the A380. LAX is also expected to spend another $70 million on additional airfield and terminal improvements in an attempt to buck its reputation as being an outdated airport.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.