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Airbus A380 takes off on first Singapore flight

Cargo is prepared to be loaded onto the Airbus A380 superjumbo as it sits on the tarmac at Singapore's Changi Airport October 25, 2007. The world's biggest jumbo took off on Thursday on its long-delayed first ever commercial flight, Singapore Airlines SQ380, from Singapore to Sydney. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The world's biggest jumbo jet lifted off safely on Thursday from Singapore on its long-delayed first commercial flight, as part of Singapore Airlines' SIAL.SI daily service to Sydney.

Watched by hundreds of airport staff and passengers who gathered around the airport lounge with their pocket cameras and camera phones, the Airbus' ARBU.UL A380 superjumbo took off from the city-state's Changi Airport on a seven-hour flight.

“I’m a big airplane freak and I love everything about planes,” said Ernest Graaff, an A380 passenger as he waited to board the jet among beaming Singapore Airlines flight attendants.

Graaff paid $40,000 (19,500 pounds) for two business-class tickets on the jet. “I’m excited about being a part of history.”

The aircraft will return to Singapore on Friday.

Passengers paid between $560 and $100,380 to be on the inaugural flight, after bidding for the tickets as part of a charity auction to drum up publicity.

Airbus’ new aircraft -- which boasts two passenger decks and, in Singapore Airlines’ version, first-class suites with proper beds -- suffered two years of delays caused by wiring glitches, which pushed the planemaker into a loss and led to 10,000 lost jobs.

Singapore Airlines is to take delivery of another five A380s in 2008.