NEW YORK: Airbus embarked on multiple testing flights for its new A380 in order to demonstrate the aircraft's operational ability to potential clients in the US.
Two A380s entered the US last week, with Germany's Lufthansa operating one from Frankfurt, Germany to New York, and Australia's Quantas operating the other from Toulouse, France to Los Angeles. One of the planes was scheduled to fly to Chicago and Washington, DC. Both airlines are current customers, but Airbus has yet to find a US buyer.
"This launch was a wonderful opportunity for this big debutant to make a debut in the US, [which is a] big media stage," said Clay McConnell, VP of communications at Airbus. "We wanted to introduce the Airbus A380 to airports serving other airlines who [might] have interest in seeing how an A380 operates in this kind of environment and also to [introduce it] to the American public."
Airbus attracted national press, aerospace trade titles, and local media to the various airports. In total, there were about 120 news media outlets at JFK, 40 outlets at O'Hare, and more than 200 accredited media personnel at Los Angeles' LAX.
Jennifer Urbaniak, Lufthansa communications manager for North America, said the media onboard interviewed the crew during the flight, and the airline made crew available before and after the flight to speak to the press.
Urbaniak explained that Lufthansa's goals were to increase visibility for the airline in the North American market and to stress its message of innovation.
McConnell added that the company specifically invited some critics of the airplane - those who might question its economics or challenge the company's assertions - to experience it firsthand.
Airbus worked with Washington, DC-based Xenophon Strategies in Chicago and a couple of freelancers in New York, as well as collaborating with Lufthansa's PR team.
Lufthansa worked with its North American AOR Newsmaker Group.