Chaos marks celebrations for maiden visit of A380


New Delhi : Chaos and confusion marked the media blitz planned at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here Monday to celebrate the maiden landing of world's largest aircraft Airbus A380 to coincide with the 2nd anniversary of Kingfisher Airlines.

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Despite sending out the requests days in advance and frequent reminders from the organisers of the event, many invited journalists, photojournalists and TV crew were denied entry to the venue, the Haj Terminal, for coverage.

Reason? The names of those invited did not correspond with the list handed over to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, whose officers declined entry despite several of the waiting journalists being accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

"By looking at the list over and over again, my name isn't going to crop up from the blue," a senior TV journalist on the aviation beat was heard complaining to the organisers. "Why don't you look at what next must be done!"

Calls to representatives of the agency handling the public relations work for the event evoked a standard response. "We'll get back to you."

Kingfisher Airlines, which has ordered five A380s to be delivered from 2011 with an option to induct five more later, had jointly organised the event to mark two years of its operations in Indian skies, with Airbus Industrie.

The A380 had landed at the airport Sunday, following which it was taken to the Haj Terminal, where compatibility tests for the aircraft were planned with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

People cheered as the aircraft circled the Indira Gandhi International Airport twice before landing, even as the areas surrounding the runway were cleared to make room for landing.

The wingspan of the aircraft is as big as a football field and its two decks can accommodate more than 525 passengers in three-class configuration and over 850 in a full-economy arrangement.

Initially, there was confusion even over the venue of the celebrations — it was originally scheduled at the Taj Mahal Hotel in the capital but was shifted to the Haj Terminal at the last moment.

The invite from Vijay Mallya, chairperson of Kingfisher Airlines, and John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers for Airbus, wanted the invitees to just carry their photo identity cards and a declaration of equipment, if any.

The airline, which has planned some sorties aboard the A380 for Indian officials and other dignitaries, is also scheduled to celebrate its second anniversary in Mumbai Wednesday.

"Kingfisher Airlines completes two immensely successful years of operations May 9, and the visit of A380 to coincide with Kingfisher's anniversary celebrations marks a major milestone for the airline and for Indian aviation," a statement issued by the airline had said.