The first superjumbo Airbus A-380 plane landed here today from Singapore with Singapore Airlines becoming the only global carrier to launch commercial flights of the 'big birds' to India.
The landing of the long-haul, wide-body and fully double -decker aircraft that can carry a total of 471 passengers, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport was preceded by a thunder storm and high-velocity winds that led to the diversion of 21 flights to nearby airports.
On landing, the superjumbo was given a 'water-salute' by the fire brigade at the airport run by the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) which made special arrangements to handle the large number of passengers and their baggage.
The passengers were welcomed by the SIA staff with gifts and bouquets.
The SIA's aircraft has a total seating capacity of 471 seats with 399 in economy, 60 in business class and 12 first class suites.
Immigration and customs departments had made special arrangements for handling such a large number of passengers.
Major Gulf carrier Emirates would become the second airline to deploy these Airbus A-380s from Mumbai in July.
Late January, government had cleared the deck for A-380 operations from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, lifting a five-year-old ban.
The restriction, which was lifted by the Civil Aviation Ministry after several years of demands by major foreign carriers, was imposed in 2008 as the government had then felt these massive jets would help foreign airlines take away a large chunk of global traffic which could be detrimental to Indian carriers' interests.
Delhi and Mumbai airports had received DGCA certification and have made preparations to receive the superjumbos in terms of various services required to handle the large number of passengers these planes can carry when they land or take off.
"The A-380 has received an overwhelming response from the Indian travellers. This reiterates our belief in the Indian market and their aspirations to travel the world which has been the key factor for Singapore Airlines' growth story in India," SIA general manager David Lau said in Singapore at the launch of the A-380 operations to India.