LAX: We Can’t Handle the Qantas A380

One of the busiest airports in the world admits that the A380 is a handful that has almost crippled it

An Airbus A380 lands at LAX:

The A380 is slowing down traffic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and it soon may not be able to handle the giant of the sky. That’s the claim the Los Angeles Times has printed as coming from concerned air traffic controllers. They say LAX was built without the intention to service such a large aircraft (the wingspan of an A380 is almost the size of a football field) and that every time the Qantas A380 takes off, lands or taxiis, it almost brings the airport to a shutdown.

At this stage it is not a serious problem as Qantas is the only airline servicing LAX with A380s. They fly to and from Sydney and Melbourne and there are usually only a maximum of two at the airport per day. But the LA Times has described the trouble it takes to host one of the planes.

“Service roads, taxiways and runways must be closed to airfield trucks, cars and other commercial aircraft as the world's largest passenger plane arrives, departs and taxis with an official escort of operations vehicles,” said Dan Weikel of the LA Times.

“The plane is so immense that air traffic controllers give it priority so it doesn't have to wait for takeoff at the end of the airport's southern runways in cloudy or foggy weather because it can disrupt radio signals from the airport's instrument landing system.”

While it may not seem like such a big deal, it’s estimated that every plane carrying 150 passengers loses around $230 per minute of delay. Furthermore, with Airbus beginning to ship more and more of the A380 to carriers, it won’t be long until LAX receives more A380 traffic.

Carriers such as Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Emirates, China Southern, British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch either already have or are expecting A380s. All these carriers service LAX. In May 2008 a study revealed five international carriers wanted to put the A380 into service on routes to LAX.

Airbus doesn’t see what the problem is though. "If there is a problem at Los Angeles, and I don't know that there is, it seems that Los Angeles has a problem of their own making," an Airbus spokesman, Ted Porter, told The Sydney Morning Herald. It should be remembered that LAX was designed and built even before the Boeing 747.

Other airports that have regular A380 arrivals and departures, such as Sydney, Singapore, London and Dubai have not made any complaints.

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LAX is a shambles at the best of times. Haven't they had long enough to put in place the necessary infrastructure to handle the A380. It is going to be one of the most significant commerical planes of the future. My advice - avoid LAX at all costs irrespective of whether there are any A380's around

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