The game-changing A380 comes to Korean Air

Airbus’ A380 will soon be in service with Korean Air as its sixth international operator, further expanding a global route network that every day is underscoring this aircraft’s undisputed role as the world air transport industry’s new flagship airliner.

During a ceremony today at Airbus’ Toulouse, France headquarters, the Seoul-based carrier celebrated its first A380 delivery, becoming one of two airlines – along with China Southern – that are to join the growing operator list during 2011.

Korean Air - Airbus A380.

Already flying the A380 in commercial revenue service are Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, Air France and Lufthansa, which together have carried more than 12 million passengers while logging excellent passenger load factors and demonstrating high operational reliability.

Destinations served – and also announced for A380 service – has reached 23 cities linked by 32 different routes, including the upcoming non-stop flights planned by Korean Air from Seoul to North America and Europe. Overall, this network covers 11 of the world’s top 15 international airports, and encompasses such major hubs as London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo; along with destinations such as Manchester, Zurich, Toronto and other cities.

Airbus A380 delivery to Korean air.

“The A380 continues to be a game-changer: it is recognised by passengers as something definitely better, while airlines are benefitting from its lowest fuel burn, cost per seat and noise of any large aircraft,” said Richard Carcaillet, Airbus’ director of A380 product marketing. “With the A380 now in its fourth year of revenue operations, this aircraft is all that it meant to be, and is now recognised as the worthy successor to the legendary – but now venerable – 747.”

A total of 234 A380s have been ordered from 18 customers to date, including carriers from all three major global airline alliances: oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. This order book tally includes the 10 A380s being acquired by Korean Air, of which the first five are to be delivered by the end of 2011, with the additional five received by 2014. · For additional information on Korean Air’s A380 first delivery celebration, see the dedicated event website.

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Iran president takes over oil ministry temporarily

PTI: Tehran, May 16 (AFP) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has temporarily assumed the duties of the oil ministry, as the oil cartel OPEC prepares for a biannual meeting in Vienna.

“For now, I myself am the caretaker of the oil ministry,” Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech yesterday, without elaborating.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 On Saturday, Ahmadinejad dismissed oil minister Masoud Mirkazemi, alongside two other ministers, whose portfolios are expected to be merged with other departments as part of a cabinet streamlining.

Then yesterday, he appointed caretakers for the industry and social affairs ministries, but did not name anyone for the oil ministry which is to be integrated with the energy portfolio.

His decision to take charge of Iran’s most-strategic sector came shortly before the 159th OPEC meeting scheduled for June 8 in Vienna, where the oil producers are represented by their ministers.

Solar-powered airplane makes first international flight

The solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse, touched down at the Brussels National Airport late Friday night, after completing a 13-hour flight from its home base in Payerne, Switzerland. It was the first international flight by a fully solar-powered aircraft.

The experimental aircraft was piloted by André Borschberg, co-founder and chief engineer for the Solar Impulse project, which hopes to circumnavigate the globe using only the sun’s energy in 2013. “Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of people…to promote solar energies — not necessarily a revolution in aviation,” Bertrand Piccard, the group’s other co-founder, said in an interview after the flight.

Solar Impulse during its first flight on December 3, 2009 Image: Matth1.

 The aircraft collects energy from the sun using 12,000 extremely thin solar cells affixed to the wings and tail section. An on-board battery can store enough electricity to fly all night, allowing the Solar Impulse to stay aloft indefinitely. This allowed the aircraft to maintain a holding pattern over the Brussels airport as other flights landed and conditions were right for the Solar Impulse to land. Because the aircraft weighs only about 3,500 pounds and has a wingspan of 200 feet, it is extremely sensitive to wind and needs calm conditions to land safely.

Man commits suicide by jumping from Burj Khalifa

A man committed suicide on Tuesday by jumping from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The unnamed man, believed to be in his twenties and of a South Asian ethnicity, jumped from the 147th floor and landed on a decking area of the 108th floor. His death would be the first known suicide that has happened at the skyscraper—currently the tallest in the world—since the building opened in January 2010.

The Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building.

The owner of the building, Emaar Properties, released a statement saying that at 09:00 local time Tuesday, “an incident involving a male” was reported. They continued, saying, “The concerned authorities have confirmed that it was a suicide, and we are awaiting the final report.” According to witness statements taken by the police, co-workers said the man had had a holiday request denied.

Suicide rates in the United Arab Emirates are higher than several other developed countries. Workers in Dubai say they suffer from “social abuse,” facing long work hours and few days off. Chenji, a Chinese worker in Dubai, spoke to the Big News Network about the man’s suicide, saying, “It’s a desperate act.” He added, “They promise things they don’t give once you get here.”

The Burj Khalifa has been temporarily closed to visitors as a result of Tuesday’s incident.

Australian airline Qantas faces engineers strike

Engineers from the Australian airline Qantas are to hold a one-hour strike on Friday amid fears over job security. The strike will likely cause disruption for thousands of passengers.

The strike was called after negotiations between the ALAEA, an engineers’ union, and the airline, broke down. “What interests us more is job security, and for aircraft engineers that means simply being able to carry out aircraft maintenance in Australia,” Steve Purvinas, the secretary of the ALAEA, said. It is likely the strike will be the first in a line of industrial action.

Qantas 747-400.

Purvinas said last-ditch negotiations between the ALAEA and Qantas before a Fair Work Australia judge yesterday had “hit a brick wall.” Analysts say the strike will probably have a huge impact on Qantas flights. The airline said it was “extremely disappointed” at the strike action but said disruption would be minimal. “We will not be able to negotiate on some of the demands they have put forward, they are simply unacceptable,” an airline spokesperson said.

The ALAEA said the main concern was that Qantas was outsourcing more work overseas and maintenance checks on aircraft are becoming less regular. Pervinas said Qantas engineers were “sick of the systematic dismantling of our industry by Qantas management.”

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