Lufthansa has taken delivery of its first Airbus A380 during a ceremony at Airbus' Hamburg facility.
The 526-seat aircraft is to be flown to Lufthansa's hub at Frankfurt today, in preparation for training flights.
"In co-operation with Airbus, we have developed many technical solutions regarding the cabin design and furnishings which are being given a world premiere in this aircraft," says Lufthansa chief Wolfgang Mayrhuber.
"Our innovations in terms of cabin air, light systems, sound insulation and inflight entertainment make our A380 unique."
Lufthansa's first A380 takes to the skies
The Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered jet has eight first-class and 98 business-class seats - located on the upper deck - and 420 economy seats on the lower deck.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, speaking at the handover event, said Lufthansa had "played a pivotal role" in the design and certification of the A380.
He also acknowledged the support of maintenance firm Lufthansa Technik in assisting the airframer to meet the delivery schedule.
Enders says Lufthansa Technik put in 24,000 man-hours of work since late last year in order to ensure the aircraft was ready.
While the A380's development has been a "true marathon", given its production issues, he adds: "After some difficult years the spirit is up again."
Frankfurt Main has already had considerable experience with A380 operations. It was the scene of some of the first A380 airport compatibility trials in 2005 – when a single gate at Terminal 2 was modified to accept the jet – and also became the centre of route-proving trials in 2007.
Frankfurt Main operator Fraport has since developed 10 terminal docking positions – across Terminal 1 and 2, and the concourse connecting them – as well as another five remote parking stands able to accommodate the type.
Final testing work for A380 operations was conducted in April, to assess the further improvements made since the 2007 flights.
Four more A380-compatible gates will become available at Terminal 1 once a concourse construction programme is completed, while the airport’s proposed third terminal will have six A380 positions.
Lufthansa Technik has a new facility at Frankfurt Main which will maintain the flag-carrier's A380 fleet.
Lufthansa will start scheduled services with the A380 on 11 June, on the Frankfurt-Tokyo route. The airline, which has 15 A380s on order, will have taken delivery of four by autumn, which will be operated on routes to Beijing and Johannesburg.