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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Norwegian Air Shuttle brings Airbus A380 superjumbo to the masses

Once the last word in luxury air travel - for those not in economy - Norwegian is first to operate world's biggest passenger jet on a discount service 

An Airbus A380. Cut-price Norwegian will operate one of the superjumbos. Reuters
An Airbus A380. Cut-price Norwegian will operate one of the superjumbos. Reuters

A second-hand Airbus superjumbo will fly for Norwegian Air Shuttle later this month, giving a model once seen as the epitome of luxury a first taste of discount travel.

The A380 has been drafted in to operate between London Gatwick airport and New York’s John F Kennedy hub after the grounding of some of Norwegian’s own Boeing 787s, according to a spokesman for the airline.

The transatlantic stint comes after the Scandinavian arm of Thomas Cook Group this week used the double-decker to fly holidaymakers between Copenhagen and Cyprus and Oslo and Majorca to help cope with its own plane shortage. The jet was released by Singapore Airlines after a decade of service and is the first used A380 to find a new role.

Norwegian plans to operate the world’s biggest passenger plane for several weeks as its sidelined 787 Dreamliners undergo maintenance to resolve glitches with Rolls-Royce engines.

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“We are pleased to be able to offer this solution to our customers to ensure that their journeys remain unaffected,” the spokesman said. Norwegian is a pioneer in low-cost, long-haul flying after tapping the 787’s fuel efficiency to undercut rivals, though it has piled up debts and become a takeover target for British Airways owner IAG.

The 471-seat A380, registration 9H-MIP, is being offered for lease by charter specialist Hi Fly of Portugal, which has the plane under contract for six years.

Thomas Cook briefed startled passengers on the giant plane before they boarded its flights, with some allocated seats in the first and business-class cabins, although minus the gourmet meals that once accompanied the premium berths. As the first scheduled superjumbo to visit Larnaca the plane also created a stir on landing, with people jostling to snap “selfies”.

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