Qantas to offer A380 demonstration to Hollywood stars

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Qantas Airways is planning to operate an Airbus A380 demonstration flight in Los Angeles for Hollywood celebrities and government officials after its inaugural A380 revenue flight lands in Los Angeles from Melbourne on 20 October.

The Australian carrier today applied for special authorisation from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate a domestic flight that will take off from Los Angeles and land back in Los Angeles.

“The flight will both originate and terminate at Los Angeles International Airport, without any intermediate stops, and will be several hours in duration,” Qantas says in its application to the DOT.

“The flight will carry both revenue and non-revenue passengers. Qantas’ passengers on this flight will include government officials, members of the press, travel industry officials and representatives of the entertainment industry, among others.”

A Qantas spokeswoman confirms the Oneworld carrier is planning the demonstration flight using the downtime following the morning arrival from Melbourne and prior to the late evening departure for the inaugural return flight back to Melbourne.

The spokeswoman says a similar demonstration flight was done at Los Angeles last year, using an Airbus test aircraft. “We’ve done this flight before without the actual Qantas aircraft and the Qantas interior,” she says. Last year’s flight also did not include local government officials.

For the 20 October flight Qantas is planning to invite the Mayor of Los Angeles as well as other high-profile Californian politicians.

The politicians on board the demonstration flights will have to pay Qantas for the flight in order to comply with a California law which prohibits politicians from accepting free flights.

This has forced Qantas to designate the flight a revenue flight although only invited guests will be able to participate.

As foreign carriers do not have the authority to operate revenue domestic flights in the US, Qantas has had to ask the DOT for special authorization to exempt it from the regular cabotage regulations.

The Qantas spokeswoman says the carrier is now in the process of preparing an invite list for the flight. She says the list will be “as broad as possible” and include Qantas’ best US customers. Politicians, Hollywood stars and members of the media are also expected to be onboard.

Qantas is slated to take delivery of its first A380, registered VH-OQA and carrying the serial number MSN014, on 19 September. The aircraft, configured with 450 seats across four classes, completed its first test flight at Toulouse earlier this week.

The aircraft is scheduled to fly from Toulouse to Sydney via Singapore following the 19 September delivery ceremony, arriving in Sydney early on 21 September. The spokeswoman says a big celebration is planned to commemorate the aircraft’s arrival in Sydney.

The spokeswoman says the aircraft “will have a very tight schedule” for the month it is in Australia prior to the start of revenue operations on 20 October. She says the aircraft will mostly be used for crew training.

Demonstrations for local politicians and the media are also expected.The first revenue flight, taking off from Melbourne on 20 October for Los Angeles, will also include a delegation of politicians and VIPs.

Qantas began selling its A380 transpacific flights in June, initially offering a promotion in which 380 seats between Los Angeles and Australia were sold for only $380 roundtrip.

The aircraft will initially be used for one weekly Melbourne-Los Angeles roundtrip and, from 24 October, for one weekly Sydney-Los Angeles roundtrip.