BA’s A380 arrived in Johannesburg today (Thursday, February 13) on its first official flight on the route. The airline’s super-jumbo – LEA – was welcomed by the traditional water cannon salute.
Captain Graeme Coombs and his flight crew piloted the plane into the South African city.

“The route to Johannesburg is not particularly difficult but there are some challenges when flying over Africa,” he said. “It is a huge continent and the air traffic control infrastructure is not as developed as other parts of the world, which presents challenges in terms of communications. There are also fewer airfields we would be able to use in the event of a diversion.

“I met my two flight deck colleagues for the first time today as we’ve never flown together before, but we are all trained to the same standard. We had a joint briefing with the cabin crew and discussed the challenges of flying the A380. We were all looking forward to it because it’s a new experience for all of us.”

This was the first time Graeme has flown the A380 on this route. “I’ve flown to Johannesburg many times before as I used to fly the Boeing 747 but this is the first time I’ve flown the A380 there. It will be a new experience for me. The A380 is a different generation of aircraft and it’s a more civilised environment. It is very quiet, very comfortable and a very nice place for us to work.”

Cabin service director Mary O’Reilly-Bell led the cabin crew on board the inaugural flight. “Our customers are loving the A380. I have spoken to all our gold Executive Club members and they like that the aircraft is spacious and quiet. Many didn’t realise it was going to be the A380 today and they were expecting the 747, so when they came on board, they were impressed with the size of it.”

Mary spoke about the service on board: “Everything has been delivered smoothly and satisfactorily, the passengers have had a fabulous service and the crew have enjoyed it.

“All of the crew, with the exception of one, have flown the A380 before,” she added. “It is a brilliant crew to be heading. They are terrific and I am immensely proud to be their CSD today.”