File photo: British Airways' new Airbus A380 comes in to land at Heathrow airport. British Airways is flying the jumbo to King Shaka airport.

Durban - The largest passenger plane in the world – an Airbus A380 – is to land at Durban’s King Shaka International Airport for the first time at the end of the month.

British Airways is flying the jumbo here. But don’t get too excited – there is no new direct route between Durban and London.

Aviation enthusiasts will nevertheless be delighted to see the giant aircraft in KZN airspace and landing and taking off at the airport, which has been built with A380 capabilities.

The airline confirmed last week that it would bring the A380 to Durban as part of “crew training”.

But BA has also come up with a publicity stunt in which five people from around the world could get a chance to fly to Durban to race the A380 on the runway before it takes off.

The “man versus plane” idea follows a similar stunt last year in which Springbok wing Bryan Habana sprinted against, and beat, a BA A380, creating a hit on YouTube. Stephen Forbes, British Airways’ spokesman in South Africa, said the challenge was being finalised and was scheduled for February.

King Shaka International spokesman Colin Naidoo said it would be a historic moment for the A380 to land at the airport.


Naidoo said the biggest passenger plane the airport had handled was an Airbus A340, just before the airport opened in May 2010.

It had accommodated large aircraft such as Boeing 747s and Emirates airline’s daily Boeing 777 to Dubai.

Saxen van Coller, the chief executive of Dube TradePort, said the stunt would boost the airport’s profile.

It could also lead to a confluence of opportunities.


Forbes and Van Coller were tight-lipped about the possibility of BA re-establishing a Durban-London route.

Van Coller said that they had presented a “business case” for the London route to “a number of major airlines”. - The Mercury