Does this huge, somewhat ungainly superjumbo jet seen above SFO today look somewhat familiar? It should, as we’ve seen its kind before. But Qantas is proud that it has the first scheduled Airbus A380 flight into San Francisco. These paying passengers came all the way from Cindy, Australia.
Check out the photos of our welcome at the International Terminal. (The kangaroo QANTAS had in Sydney yesterday at the start of the flight was a bit more lively than the specimen we had this morning at SFO, it appears. And for some reason, the Emirates A380 seems to be more luxurious. And there was no sign of Ralph Fiennes. But that’s not the problem.)
The problem is that this is all a tease and the big new metal bird is going to spend its time in sunny Los Angeles. Why? Read on.
The A380-800 looks stubby because it is. Its wings is too big for its body! But that will pay off once stretched models start coming out in a few years. Then this series of aircraft will look better proportioned, more like the graceful stretched Boeing 747. Click to expand:
Now back a half-year ago, the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services got all huffy at LAX and threatened that it would “move its flagship Airbus A380 services to San Francisco” unless Los Angeles upgraded its facilities.
Of course we’ve got mad upgrades up here in the 415. But not as many Australians want to come to the Bay Area compared with SoCal, and Oneworld connections with American Airlines are easier in LAX than in the Bay Area, and yada yada yada. So Qantas and El Lay patched things up and S.F. got left at the altar.
We’ll have to make do with regular old 747 service to Oz for a while longer anyway. But our cargo cult terminal upgrades for the new superjumbos should be worth the effort down the road, especially when the economy recovers.
And these days you can fly down under for cheap, so check the details after the jump.
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–To launch G’Day USA 2009, and officially welcome San Francisco as the third U.S. city in the program, Qantas Airways today brought the new A380 aircraft to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) from Sydney, Australia. In partnership with Tourism Australia and Tourism New South Wales, San Franciscans were invited to “Come Walkabout” on the Qantas A380 and enjoy special Australian festivities at the gate.
Executive General Manager Mr. John Borghetti, said Qantas was a founding partner of G’Day USA, and was supporting the event’s expansion into San Francisco.
“Six years ago Qantas joined Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade and Tourism Australia to support this important annual event that has been so successful in promoting all things Australian to the United States market,” Mr. Borghetti said.
“G’Day USA began in Los Angeles, expanded to the US east coast and New York three years ago, and is now growing further with this move into San Francisco.”
Mr. Borghetti said it was appropriate for Qantas to mark G’Day USA’s arrival in San Francisco with the newest addition to its international fleet.
“In 1954, San Francisco became Qantas’ first US mainland destination and we have a long association with the city. We are delighted to showcase our new aircraft to the people of San Francisco.”
“San Francisco International Airport was designed to accommodate the new A380 aircraft, and we are extremely pleased today to welcome Qantas Airways in the first commercial A380 flight to SFO,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “This state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive new aircraft provides yet another bridge of friendship between San Francisco and Australia, and we look forward to continuing our long and successful partnership with Qantas.”
The regularly scheduled flight from Sydney, Australia, to San Francisco, piloted by Captain Mark Huxtable, was via the airline’s newest aircraft – the A380, which took the place of the regular B747 for this special, one-time occasion. Passengers on the inbound flight included Australian dignitaries, including Sydney’s U.S. Ambassador and New South Wales Minister Kristina Keneally. Upon the arrival of the A380 aircraft, a press conference was held at the SFO International Terminal at Gate A7, followed by interior aircraft tours throughout the day.
And as guests wait to tour the aircraft, the ‘G’Day San Francisco A380 Come Walkabout’ festivities at the gate will keep guests entertained with Aussie wildlife, food and music.
Tourism Australia also showcased its new campaign inviting visitors to ‘Come Walkabout’ in Australia.
“The concept of ‘walkabout’ is uniquely Australian and steeped in traditional Aboriginal culture,” said Michelle Gysberts, Tourism Australia vice president, The Americas. “A ‘walkabout’ is a period of transformation when people restore, rebalance and reconnect with what is important in their lives. And just as a vacation in Australia can help to transform a traveler’s spirit and perspective, the new Qantas A380 aircraft has transformed the journey to get there.”
In October 2008, Qantas inaugurated A380 service to Los Angeles. With aircraft interiors designed by internationally renowned industrial designer and Qantas Creative Director Marc Newson, the Qantas A380 is configured with 450 seats, including 14 in First Class, 72 in Business Class, 32 in the newly introduced Premium Economy Class and 332 in Economy Class.
“The Qantas A380 has been operating up to three services a week between Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles since October, and customer feedback has been extremely positive,” Mr. Borghetti said.
“Qantas worked with internationally renowned Australian industrial designer and Qantas Creative Director Marc Newson over a number of years to revolutionize our international flying product.
“The intelligent design of the aircraft offers passengers an unprecedented level of space, comfort and style,” he said.
Today, Qantas offers 47 a week to the U.S., including 38 to Los Angeles (from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), five to San Francisco and four to Honolulu. Qantas also operates daily services to New York via Los Angeles.
In 2008, Sydney, the capital of Australian state New South Wales, celebrated its 40th year as a Sister City to San Francisco. As the main gateway for a majority of American visitors to Australia, Sydney similarly boasts strong economic, cultural and trade partnerships in addition to being beautiful cities to visit.
Minister Kristina Keneally said that she was delighted to bring the G’Day USA celebrations to San Francisco as the two cities shared so many similarities between them.
“With a relaxed harbor-side lifestyle with beaches, world heritage areas in addition to the draw of a major cosmopolitan and diverse culture, Sydney is ideal for Americans that want to experience something new with a familiar feel of home,” Ms. Keneally said. “It’s never been so easy to get there. An overnight flight and you can wake up in Sydney for a great holiday. There is so much to do in and around Sydney that you can easily fill a diverse and action packed week.”
About G’Day USA
G’Day USA: Australia Week 2009 is produced by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Qantas Airways, Tourism Australia and Austrade. This year, the Australia Week Committee will present another exciting program of events held in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, showcasing the very best of Australian culture, fashion, food, wine, tourism and business.
G’Day USA: Australia Week 2009 will host a diverse range of activities and events, all designed to capture the attention of Americans across the country. From business forums to art exhibitions and youth festivals, there will truly be something for everyone during this two-week spotlight on Australia. Festivities begin in Los Angeles and San Francisco from January 13 to 19, 2009 and then continue to New York from January 20 to 23, 2009.