This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBC Learning English Launch BBC Media Player
  • Help
  • Text only
You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
26 October, 2007 - Published 10:57 GMT
Super jumbo's first commercial flight
Airbus 380, Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

The world's biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, has landed in Sydney at the end of its first commercial flight from Singapore. The aircraft can carry about 850 passengers and Airbus hopes it will replace the Boeing 747 - the original jumbo that's been in service since the 1970s. This report from Mark Gregory:

Listen to the story

The Airbus super jumbo is a remarkable engineering achievement but its commercial success is far from guaranteed. So far Airbus has less than half the 420 orders it says it needs to break even. The company must sell more than that to turn a profit on billions of dollars of investment.

Meanwhile Boeing has secured over 700 orders for its new plane the 787 Dreamliner. This looks certain to be a money spinner, even though the manufacturer has delayed the first deliveries by six months.

The two planes are crucial to the futures of Airbus and Boeing but they are very different. The Airbus A380 is designed to fly large numbers of passengers between hub airports. The Boeing carries fewer people and is built to be cost efficient on routes between lesser airports - the idea being that business travellers will pay more to fly directly to their final destination rather than going via a hub.

Many, but not all, analysts believe the market is big enough for both planes to succeed. The saving grace for the Airbus A380 could be the explosion of air travel within Asia. A big plane makes sense in a continent where populations are large and travel demand is growing fast.

Mark Gregory, BBC

Listen to the words

a remarkable engineering achievement
a very good machine (here, airplane) that has been extremely difficult to design and build

to break even
to get back enough money to cover for what has been previously spent or invested in a business

to turn a profit on
to earn money from

to be a money spinner
to produce a lot of profit

has delayed the first deliveries by six months
delivered the first planes late

extremely important, critical

hub airports
big airports that are usually home airports of a certain airline (e.g. London's Heathrow airport is the main hub of British Airways)

to be cost efficient
to be good value for money, to be economical

The saving grace
a good quality that something or someone has which stops it/them from being completely bad

travel demand
the number of travellers

27 May, 2011
Destruction of smallpox virus delayed
25 May, 2011
Micro-finance 'misused and abused'
20 May, 2011
Lonely planets
18 May, 2011
Germany to invest in more electric cars
16 May, 2011
Argentina builds a tower of books
Other Stories