Lufthansa's mammoth A380s pulling out of Miami
By Scott Blake
After hailing the arrival of the world's largest passenger airliner last year, Miami International Airport officials are disappointed to learn that Lufthansa's daily flights between Germany and Miami using the Airbus A380 will end in March.
Beginning March 25, the German carrier will switch to the smaller Boeing 747 for the daily flights between Frankfurt and Miami, Lufthansa confirmed this week.
Miami International officials had expected the A380 flights year-round.
"This is merely due to seasonal changes," Lufthansa spokeswoman Christina Semmel said in a statement Monday to Miami Today. "Furthermore, flight routes and plans tend to be works in progress, so at times schedules can shift as previously planned."
A380 flights are expected to resume in October, said county Aviation Director Jose Abreu.
Ms. Semmel referred to it as "the new summer schedule" but didn't say when A380 flights would resume, indicating it isn't final. She provided no information about flight occupancy rates, known as load factors. The flights were geared to both business and leisure travelers.
Miami International spokesman Greg Chin said Lufthansa's A380 flights have been 87% full, a solid figure, but noted decreased demand for travel to Miami during the summer.
Lufthansa gained attention in June when it became the first to fly an A380, configured to seat 526 persons, into Miami International. In comparison, the B747-400 seats 352.
To prepare for the A380, the airport spent about $4 million on gate and other improvements, although they probably would have been done eventually anyway, Mr. Abreu said.
No other carriers fly the A380 into Miami. Worldwide, the double-deck jetliner first entered commercial service in late 2007.
In a November speech, Mr. Abreu spoke about the Lufthansa A380 flights as a landmark for Miami's airport and said the flights were doing well.
"June was also a big month Ð literally Ð because we welcomed for the first time the A380, the largest passenger plane in the world," he told the Greater Miami Aviation Association.
"The A380 adds 200 seats per day to [the Frankfurt] route and flights have been 90% full," he added. Miami "is only the fifth US airport with A380 service. As you can see, it's almost like a cruise ship in the sky."
Previously, Lufthansa said rates from Miami to Frankfurt would start at $614 one-way, based on a roundtrip purchase, including taxes. Those rates fluctuate depending on the season, Ms. Semmel said.
Among the A380's features is an air humidification system on the first-class second deck section intended to help passengers fight off jet lag. The section also features extra seats, Ms. Semmel said.
In addition, the A380 has a 98-seat business class and a main deck with 420 seats, each equipped with a video screen and a slim seatback to provide added leg room, she said.
Jens Bischof, vice president of The Americas for Lufthansa, said in a statement last year: "I applaud Miami International Airport's management team for their determination to become A380-ready."
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