LAX is taking one runway out of service to modify it, which will add a burden to the other runways and travelers. Some tarmacs may have to be widened or reinforced to handle the jet, as well.
With more travelers traveling on the same plane at one time, parking lots and garages will need to be enlarged to accommodate their vehicles. In addition, the entrances and exits to many airports from city streets and highways may not be able to handle the crush of passengers all at once, and so the infrastructure surrounding many airports may have to be altered or expanded to handle the traffic needs of passengers who all arrive at once. In addition to onsite parking, more taxis, limousines, and other vehicles will have to be ready as well, and some airports may have to enlarge their drop-off and pick-up areas to accommodate so many passengers arriving and leaving at once.
Some experts are even predicting longer lines for terminal bathrooms, the need for more bathrooms (and many other services), and even "sewer surge" just before planes board and right after they deboard. A reporter notes one expert says, "Where's the first place most people go when they get off the plane after a long flight?' he asked. 'Remember, we're talking about more than 500 people on one flight'" (Velotta, 2006). Many larger terminals, such as LAX, are equipped to handle large numbers of passengers all at once, but many others may not be so lucky, and may run into unforeseen problems such as "sewer surge" when the big planes land and takeoff.
Catering and Other Services
Because the entire footprint of the plane is unique, new catering trucks that reach higher and carry more food will also have to come into service to effectively stock the plane with food and drink (Pastzor, 2005).
The plane is designed to include cocktail bars and other amenities, and these will need to be stocked as well. In addition, larger passenger service crews will be needed to take care of the many passengers. In addition, the airports will need to add staff in some cases, such as janitors, maintenance people, rampers, and other services associated with arrival and departure.
While numerous airports are getting ready to welcome the A380 with open arms, many others are not prepared to make the costly changes necessary to accept the plane. One of those airports is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. Officials at the airport feel the cost of retrofitting the airport, combined with increased traffic, baggage, and security delays simply are not worth the expenditure, and they will not welcome the jet at the airport. Another author notes, "It's simply too big and the cost of improvements to bring it in for the minimal number of flights that would be made are too great to justify. The hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to retrofit McCarran -- and putting up with air traffic delays the jet would create -- make the appearance of the A380 at the local airport highly unlikely" (Velotta, 2006). McCarran is not the only airport that will not welcome the superjumbo jet. Many others simply do not have the resources to retrofit, even if they wanted to accommodate the craft.
Even with the anticipated problems with the new plane, many airports are getting ready to accommodate it. Writer Korry continues, "New York's JFK will spend $150 million, and Anchorage, Alaska has set aside $120 million. Upgrades are also planned for Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver. Most of the money will be spent widening runways, to handle the A380's longer wingspan" (Korry, 2007). LAX anticipates spending $121 million or more on its upgrades (currently in progress) to handle the giant jet. Interestingly, the plane was supposed to be in service by 2006, and LAX is still working on many modifications to accommodate the plane, as are several other airports. Experts predicted LAX would be behind schedule in construction for the plane, and several airlines who ordered the planes had planned to re-route their flights away from LAX because it was not expected to be finished (Pastzor, 2005). With the many delays in production, LAX and other airports have gotten some leeway in their construction schedules, but it is not known how many will be fully ready by the time the A380 takes to the skies.
In conclusion, the Airbus A380 seems like a giant gamble to many. Too large to fly into many airports, its usage will be limited, and its orders, once at 166 or more, have dwindled to 154 after Fed Ex's and UPS' cancellations of their orders. Because of delays in production, several other airlines are thinking about decreasing their orders, as well. Airports are readying their terminals, jetways, runways, and taxiways for the giant aircraft, but it remains to be seen how many people will actually want to fly on a plane that carries 853 passengers at its largest configuration. It also remains to be seen if the money spent on airports and in development will ever pay back Airbus and the airports geared up to accept it.
Huff, a. (2007). Airports: Super size me please. Retrieved from the AirportBusiness.com Web site: http://www.airportbusiness.com/online/article.jsp?id=10967&siteSection=2314 April 2007.
Korry, E. (2007). Jumbo plane triggers giant airport change. Retrieved from the NPR.org Web site: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=553046414 April 2007.
Moxon, J. (2007). Everything about: The Airbus A380. Retrieved from the Flightglobal.com Web site: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/02/27/205274/everything-about-the-airbus-a380.html14 April 2007.
Pastzor, a. (2005). LAX lags in accommodating the A380. Retrieved from the Post-Gazette.com Web site: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05333/614282.stm14 April 2007.
Sandstrom, M. (2002). Megadoor hangar doors for the Airbus 380. Retrieved from the Airports International Web site: http://www.airport-int.com/categories/aircraft-hangar-doors/megadoor-hangar-doors-for-airbus-a380.asp14 April 2007.
Vellota, R.N. (2006). Not everyone wants the A380 at their airport. Airbus wouldn't fly into Las Vegas, Aviation director stating "Changes at McCarran too costly." Retreived from the Las Vegas Sun Web site: http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2006/jan/23/520008974.html?A38014 April 2007.