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Heathrow spends £450M on Airbus A380 upgrade

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AIRPORT OPERATOR BAA is spending at least £450M on efforts to accommodate the new generation Airbus A380 super jumbo at London's Heathrow airport.

The 800 passenger capacity A380 had a successful maiden flight last week. It has almost twice the capacity of a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet which can carry 430 people.

BAA expects one in 10 flights from Heathrow to be A380s by 2020.

'The A380 doesn't need a longer runway than the Boeing 747, but on older airports like Heathrow, runways and taxiways usually need to be widened and upgraded, ' said a BAA spokesman.

The widening is needed to enable the 80m wingspan Airbuses to manoeuvre around other jets, including 60m wingspan 747s.

Taxiways also need widening so fire crews can reach the outer engines, which are further from the giant aircraft's centreline than those of a 747.

In the long term most A380 flights at Heathrow will be handled by Terminal 5.

l Key 'hub' airports around the world are also spending millions of pounds on new facilities capable of handling the A380 and any other new generation larger aircraft (NGLA) that might appear.

Paris Charles de Gaulle is building a new satellite (S3) to the east of terminals 2E and 2F. Each of the six A380 stands will have three air bridges.

Runways and taxiways have already been upgraded, and the new satellite will be operational in spring 2007.

At Frankfurt more than £60M will be spent upgrading the airport's Terminal 2.

New generation airports in the Middle and Far East were almost all designed with NGLA in mind and are only expected to need minor modifications.

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