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Qantas grounds its A380 jets, half at LAX [Updated]

November 4, 2010 |  1:16 pm

Three of the six Airbus A380 superjumbo jets operated by Qantas Airways are sitting idle on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

The Australian carrier decided to ground its entire A380 fleet Wednesday, after one of the double-decker aircraft blew out an engine shortly after takeoff on the island of Batam, just south of Singapore.

There were no injuries reported among the 459 people aboard. Airbus07

The carrier, the only one to operate the A380 out of LAX, canceled two flights at the airport  Wednesday night and one Thursday. Passengers who were scheduled to take those flights were put on other Qantas jets, moved to other airlines or housed in nearby hotels, said Nancy Castles, an LAX spokeswoman.

[Updated at 2:27 p.m.: Qantas said that the flights were not canceled, but rather were delayed 15 hours, and that the passengers were put on flights Thursday afternoon.]

Qantas has 10 flights a week on the A380, with a nightly flight to Sydney and a flight three nights a week to Melbourne.

LAX spent $88 million to build a taxiway that can handle the world's largest passenger jet.

With two decks, the plane can hold more than 500 passengers and has a price tag of about $300 million.

The plane debuted in October 2007, with Singapore Airlines flying it from Singapore to Sydney, Australia.

Singapore Airlines said in a statement it would be "delaying all flights operating our A380 aircraft" after Rolls-Royce and Airbus advised it to conduct precautionary technical checks. Germany's Lufthansa, which operates three A380s, told the Associated Press it was continuing with service as normal.

Airbus has delivered a total of 37 A380s so far. Thirteen are in service with Emirates, 11 with Singapore Airlines, six with Qantas, four with Air France and three with Lufthansa.

-- W.J. Hennigan

Photo (top): A Qantas A380 jet on the tarmac at LAX in 2008, shortly after Qantas became the first airline to operate commercial A380 flights between Australia and the US West Coast. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Photo (side): Qantas grounded its Airbus A380 fleet after one of the superjumbo jets blew out an engine Thursday, shooting flames and raining metal chunks before making an emergency landing in Singapore. Credit: Associated Press