Singapore Airlines is to sell tickets for the world's first commercial Airbus A380 flight through an online auction, as preparations for the delivery of the carrier's first aircraft and its pilot training gather pace in Toulouse.

SIA is due to be the first operator of the A380 when it puts the first production aircraft (MSN003) into service in October between its Singapore hub and Sydney. It will auction tickets for the first commercial flight through online marketplace eBay and all proceeds will be donated to charities.

"The first commercial A380 flight will be a moment in aviation history," says SIA chief executive Chew Choon Seng. "It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, on an aircraft that will mark a new chapter in air travel."

SIA was originally due to take delivery of the first A380 in the first half of last year, but there have been extensive delays to the programme and delivery is now set for October.

Although there has been speculation the first delivery could be accelerated to either August or September, SIA says that it is still awaiting "final notification from Airbus about the delivery date this coming October".

It says the Sydney inaugural will take place during "the month of October". London Heathrow is the other long-haul destination that is set for early SIA A380 services, although it is understood that flights to the UK will not start before March next year.

SIA's A380 MSN003 was ferried back to Toulouse from Airbus's Hamburg plant on 19 July following interior completion and painting to undergo pre-delivery tests, as training of the type's initial airline flightcrews gathers pace.

SIA flightcrews began their A380 training courses in June, with eight pilots starting the ground phase of the standard type rating course in Singapore. Training is being completed at Airbus Training in Toulouse using the flight simulator and the aircraft itself.

Airbus has received validation from the European, US and Canadian civil aviation authorities for its first three A380 pilot training courses, which were approved after an evaluation process that began in April.

The airframer says that the courses include the A380 standard type rating for pilots with no previous Airbus fly-by-wire experience, and two cross-crew qualification courses for pilots transitioning from the A330 and the A340.