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City to act as emergency Airbus stop
Peter Morley

THE world's biggest passenger plane is due to make its first test flight later this month from Toulouse in southern France.

The double-decker Airbus A380 has been moved out of the final assembly line to undergo taxiing, acceleration and braking tests before taking off.

Fifteen customers have ordered 153 of the aircraft, with Singapore Airlines planning to fly the 550-seat jet into Sydney from next year.

This means Brisbane has to be ready as an alternative airport should Sydney be closed.

Brisbane Airport Corporation spokesman Jim Carden said that while the runway was long enough, it had to be widened because of the A380's wingspan.

Design and planning was in progress for the work, which would have to be done at night when there was less traffic.

"It will be a bit of a challenge to do the work in between arrivals," he said.

Brisbane is unlikely to see the A380 regularly until 2008 when Emirates, the Middle East airline, is expected to begin operations.

Mr Carden said that by then the international terminal would be equipped with a new aero bridge that could board passengers through two levels.

"Because there may not be huge demand, we are looking at a design configuration that would allow this new gear to also handle single-deck aircraft," he said.

Brisbane Airport's future plans include a $1 billion-plus expansion, including duplication of the existing runway.

Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said forecast data showed overseas visitor arrivals to Australia were expected to increase by an average annual rate of 5.7 per cent to reach 8.6 million visitors by 2013.

Last year Brisbane handled a record million passengers.

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They will from 2007 or 8, but they'll start on the Sydney route before shifting to Melbourne, Brisbane. Though Sinapore may even have them coming to Brisbane regularly before Emirate or one is really sure.

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Qantas is October 2006 with flights out of Melbourne. Not sure when Sydney services start. Singapore airlines will be first into the country with the A380 in March next year I think it is.

The A380 makes its maiden flt in the next few weeks/days (last I heard it was supposed to be by end of April). If you wanna know more about it check out their website
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