Los Angeles made a fuss. And Airbus blinked.
Now the world's largest jet will be landing at Los Angeles International Airport during its maiden U.S. flight after all.
The European airplane maker announced last week that it would land two A380 jumbo jets simultaneously at LAX and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport during dual maiden flights on the morning of March 19.
Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., had pledged last year to make LAX the plane's first stop, but suddenly last month it said the Lufthansa flight would first stop at John F. Kennedy amid a public campaign by Airbus to have LAX make additional terminal improvements to handle the 555-seat jet.
The about-face prompted strongly worded letters from the airport's Board of Commissioners, which contends $54 million has already been spent to accommodate the plane, and Qantas Airways, which will begin flying A380s between LAX and Melbourne in 2008.
That in turn prompted Airbus to back down last week and announced the dual maiden flight plan, causing L.A. officials to rejoice.
"Being part of the A380's inaugural visit to the U.S. is a clear indication that Los Angeles is a leading international gateway and that our airport is a world-class facility," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement.
City officials have expressed interest in holding a media event on the occasion of the plane's landing, but no details have been released.
The announcement by Airbus comes on the heels of the city's groundbreaking ceremony for a $724 million renovation of Tom Bradley International Terminal. The major project will add 11 new gates to the terminal.
For several months, Airbus officials had been pressuring Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees LAX, to make additional costly terminal upgrades, saying the airport's aging facilities could not accommodate the expected increases in international travel in the coming years. The airplane maker contends LAX is even in danger of losing its status as a major international hub.
That argument gained credence last week when it was reported the airport has seen its international flights drop by more than 10 percent since 2000 as other airports have completed expensive renovations of their international terminals.
LAX officials say additional improvement will be completed but have not specified them. The airport is expected to become the second largest A380 hub in the world behind London's Heathrow Airport.
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