When I first arrived in Las Vegas, I was a chauffeur on the Strip. As a blossoming aviation geek (AvGeek), I loved being sent to the airport for an inbound international flight. That meant I would have time to just sit and ogle all the cool jets coming and going. Especially the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747. That was my all-time favorite plane to spot.
I swear I used to be able to set my watch by the landing of British Airways 747 into Las Vegas. The wheels would cross the fence line on Eastern Ave at exactly 4:45 pm almost every Mondy, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m not sure if it was always the same pilot, but whoever it was, they were the most dependable, on-time flight at McCarran!
In 2007 Airbus introduced the Airbus A380. A widebody jet they thought could beat the 747 in size, capacity, and travel business. However, the one problem with the jet was with its weight, its wide-body, and massive Rolls-Royce engines, it was limited to only a few airports here in the USA.
This limitation was mainly due to the turbulence caused as this massive piece of flying machinery came in for a landing. No other jets could be anywhere near its flight path. Not to mention what it took to maneuver this beast around the tarmac!
McCarran International Airport (LAS), with its closeness to population, surrounded by tall buildings, as well as just being a very busy airport, banned the plane from landing here except for emergency purposes.
However, when constructing the new terminal three in 2012, they took into consideration the future of the jumbo jet and built two gates specifically to serve an A380 or similar jet. They built the gates with two skybridges. The A380 at 550 to 800 passengers, is truly a double-decker plane and would need at least two jetways for faster loading and unloading. I bet you never noticed that, did you??
The A380 Never Landed Here
Las Vegas, with its millions of tourists from all over the world flying in here, we see just about every type of plane imaginable from every corner of the globe. Even the Concorde and the Russian Antonov An-225 Mriya — flew into McCarran.
Being Las Vegas and being the entertainment capital of the world, you would expect that such a plane like the A380 would have made at least one appearance here. But nope! The A380 has never landed here.
However, they do/did land into LAX. In 2018, Los Angeles International Airport was handling on average, about 14 A380 flights per day. Being Las Vegas and being located in the middle of the Mojave desert, we are designated as an emergency landing field for LAX and we could handle the A380’s.
I actually got excited last year when I heard there was a chance to finally see one here in Las Vegas. Right before COVID hit, there was a request made by British Airlines to have two of them land here as a charter for CES Weekend. This was to be a test for future scheduled flights. But obviously, that never happened. Both Virgin and BA have since mothballed or sold all of their A380’s and almost all of their 747’s. So no need to talk about that!
The A380 will Never Land Here
With COVID lockdowns, the near-death of air travel, and now the ingrained fear of ever being able to sit or stand next to another person, the need for such a large jet no longer exists.
The last A380 rolled off the assembly line in France in August of 2020. Of the 272 built since 2005, Emirates, the airline owned by the government of Dubai, owns 122 of them and is taking delivery in November of the final three planes ever built.
With over half of the A380’s existing being owned by an airline that doesn’t fly into Las Vegas and the other airlines mothballing or scraping them as we speak, that makes the chances of Las Vegas-based AVgeeks seeing this big bird land here slim to none. And that’s kinda sad to know…
1969 – 2022
2005 – 2021
Am I the only one who is sad to not see this in Las Vegas?