Five A380s with distinct features

13 Sep 2011

With China Southern geared to deploy its first Airbus A380 from October 18, the first Chinese carrier to do so (see story here), it is time to review other forthcoming or operating A380s that are not only fuel-efficient but also offer an enhanced experience for the passenger, either with more seats or legroom, or quirky features that cannot be found on other aircraft - yet.


Back in 2009, Air Austral, based in La Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, placed the order for two Airbus A380s.

Unique feature: This will be the first all-economy A380, enabling a total of 840 passengers to be packed onboard. This aircraft will serve the extremely popular, high-density Paris-La Reunion route. The fuel-efficient design of the superjumbo and the dense configuration means that “fuel consumption below two litres per passenger per 100km can be expected,” states Airbus.

Status: The delivery date of the carrier's two superjumbos is yet to be confirmed.



Emirates received its first superjumbo back in 2008 and is currently the first and only Middle Eastern carrier to operate the A380, with Etihad and Qatar both still awaiting deliveries.

Unique feature: Emirates’ in-flight shower and spa are still as unique, shocking and interesting as they were when first announced (see story here), offering each first class passenger up to 10 minutes in the shower at a time.

Status: Since 2008, Emirates has taken 15 A380 aircraft, with another 75 on order.



Korean Air received its first A380 in May and, since then, three more have joined its fleet. These are used on flights to Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles (see story here). Eventually the superjumbo will be used on flights to Frankfurt and Paris.

Unique feature: This carrier is the first to install an in-flight duty free store on board, located at the back of the lower deck (see story here). Equivalent to 13 economy seats, the store serves as a “physical catalogue” showcasing cosmetics, fragrances, accessories and a selection of liquor.

Status: The carrier has another six A380s on order.




This carrier will be the second in Southeast Asia to deploy the A380 on long-haul international routes, likely to London and Amsterdam first (see story here).

Unique feature: Rather controversially, MAS announced it will not have bassinet facilities in its first class cabin on the forthcoming A380, drawing reactions of both shock and relief. According to a statement by the carrier, “in 2003, Malaysia Airlines embarked on a revamp of first and business class cabins of the B747s.” The new seat configuration, with the introduction of the ottoman, meant there was “no facility for positioning bassinets in the first class cabin.” The same configuration will be used on the A380s, thus effectively placing a ban on babies in first class (see story here).

Orders: The carrier has six of the superjumbos on order, the first of which is expected to be in service early next year, followed by another four throughout 2012.


Singapore Airlines was in fact the A380 launch carrier, having received it for commercial operations in 2007, and is currently the only Southeast Asian airline to operate the superjumbo.

Unique feature: Singapore Airlines’ first class suites are one of a kind, offering guests a leather armchair that is separate to the bed measuring 27 inches by 78 inches. The divider between the two centre Suites on each row can be removed to create a double bed for couples.

Order: SIA has 12 A380s currently in operation and another 19 on order.


For a table comparing the different A380 configurations click here, and for an in-depth analysis of the different A380s, click here.

Alisha Haridasani

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