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The next big thing for airlines?

Airbus's giant A380 makes a US sales call

NEW YORK -- The latest jetliner to claim the title of world's biggest passenger aircraft completed its inaugural flight to the United States yesterday , flying on football field-length wings and a prayer that airlines will want to shell out $300 million to buy the behemoth double-decker jet.

The four-engine Airbus A380 descended from a sunny sky and touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport about 12:10 p.m. after an 8-hour flight from Frankfurt . As the plane made its way toward the terminal, a pilot waved an American flag. Minutes later, an A380 arrived in Los Angeles, with only a crew as passengers.

The first flights are a chance for plane builder Airbus and German airline Lufthansa AG to show off the jewel of Airbus's offerings to potential American buyers and to the airports they hope to turn into flight bases for the jet.

The 239-foot-long jet can seat as many as 550 passengers, hold 81,890 gallons of fuel, cruise at 560 mph, and fly about 8,000 nautical miles.

Despite the plane's impressive statistics, Airbus has yet to sell any of the planes to US carriers. The A380 comes with a pricetag of about $300 million .

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