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Qantas A380 arrives in LA

LOS ANGELES, October 20 – The first flight of an Airbus A380 by Qantas touched down in Los Angeles here Monday, inaugurating the Australian carrier\’s service using the world\’s biggest commercial jet.

The mammoth jet touched down at Los Angeles International Airport at around 7:30 am (1430 GMT) following a 12-hour trans-Pacific voyage from Melbourne.

The superjumbo was to be welcomed at an airport ceremony later Monday including movie star, pilot and Qantas "ambassador" John Travolta as well as Australian singer Olivia Newton-John.

The plane will return to Melbourne late Monday on its first commercial flight out of Los Angeles.

Qantas Chief Executive Geoff Dixon said the decision to fly its first A380 commercial service to the US West Coast showed a commitment to expanding the trans-Pacific market, an extremely lucrative route for airlines.

"We have operated air services between Australia and the United States since 1954 and have invested," Dixon said.

After a series of long delays, Qantas took delivery of its first A380, the world\’s largest passenger plane, last month. It will receive another three by the end of the year and a further five before the end of 2009.

Qantas, which has 20 A380s on order and is the world\’s third airline to operate the new jets, will launch ultra long-distance services to London via Singapore on the A380 in January.

The Qantas version of the plane can accommodate 450 passengers — 14 in first class, 72 in business, 32 in premium economy and 332 in economy.

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Monday\’s flight comes as a boost to Qantas\’s image following a series of damaging in-flight incidents on the carrier\’s jets, including a mid-air blast that left a hole in a jet and a bone-breaking nose-dive by another plane.

Dubai\’s Emirates, the second carrier to take delivery of the superjumbos, is currently the A380\’s biggest client with 58 orders.

Singapore Airlines, the first airline to take delivery of the A380, launched the plane on its Singapore to Sydney route in October 2007.

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