Lufthansa A380 Naming Ceremony at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg - By Bernard Stander

Well, the day started just as any other day in my life, except for the fact that I was heading for the airport and not to work.

Yes, I was invited to the naming ceremony of Lufthansa's latest Airbus A380 "Johannesburg" at OR Tambo International Airport. When I entered the international departures hall, I could see the Lufthansa banners from the doors and followed all the way to the demarcated area where we were to meet.

I was greeted by a friendly lady that took me to the table for my accreditation. Once I put my nametag on, I was recognised by other members of the media and Karin Dunker from Lufthansa. We were joined by others guests and the mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau

At about 08H30 we got briefed by the spokesperson for Lufthansa about ACSA’s rules and regulations and we entered the departures area. We did not get stopped by customs, because we were moving in a long line and was monitored by security and Lufthansa personnel.

Soon we arrived at the area where the function was to held. It was cordoned off in white material and they served snacks and drinks. During the function, everyone was very excited about the fact that this beautiful flagship of Lufthansa was getting named after a South African city.

Looking at my phone and knowing what time she lands, I sneaked out of the function to hunt her down on the runway. Just as I found a spot where I could see the runway, she landed and stopped very quickly to enter the area right outside the function area.

I took some photos as she was taxiing off the runway. She parked and they started preparing her for our flight when the last passengers left the plane. The mayor and all the Lufthansa brass went outside for the unveiling of the name and the blessings from an African prayer giver.

The curtain literally dropped in front of the windows and there she was in all her glory. After the ceremony we started gathering at the gate to board the plane. The media boarded first and got a full tour of the aircraft, except for the cockpit, which was being prepared for take-off.

The first class was the most spectacular; there are 8 berths and 2 restrooms with toilets and basins and enough space to get dressed. The tour was very nice and we knew everything about the A380 before we went to our seats. I was sitting in 72K, a window seat in the middle of the wing.

While we taxied to the holding point on runway 03L, I was following the progress on the monitor in the backrest of the seat in front of me. There are 3 views, from the vertical stabiliser, from the belly down and from the nose gear.

We took off at exactly 13H07 and climbed out towards Cape Town. While climbing the hosts and hostesses started offering us some drinks and soon we were served with lunch. It was an assortment of cold meats, cheese and seafood and was very nice indeed.

Before we knew it, we were descending down through the clouds into Cape Town. After flying around Table Mountain and the bay, we headed to Cape Town International airport for a low level flyby along the full length of the runway.

This was by all means the highlight of the trip! Capt. Raps took the A380 down to 40 feet above the centreline and kept it there until he pulled up hard and applied full throttle at the end of the runway. He rolled to the left and then to the right in a waving gesture to the crowds that were gathered at and around the airport.

We climbed out from the airport so quickly; it felt like a fighter jet. Remember, we were only about 300 people onboard with no luggage and minimum fuel, so she was as light as a feather! We were through the clouds in 20 seconds and well on our way back to Johannesburg.

The real fun started after that. We were walking around on the plane and testing all the features offered by this lovely aircraft. We also had an opportunity to enter the cockpit in groups of three and see what the pilots were up to.

We were served with snacks again and each had a piece of cake that was made for this occasion. It was a sad moment when they told us that we were 20 minutes away from OR Tambo and we had to move to our seats and buckle up. We landed at exactly 16H52, 8 minutes earlier than expected.

After parking at the terminal, we exited and proceeded out to exit the airport. Before we left the plane, we were told to collect a gift at the “lost and found” area. When I got there, I was greeted by Karin Dunker and given a beautiful model of the very same A380 that we flew in – now that’s a special touch.

A gift from Lufthansa

View the flypast HERE and the view from inside HERE and a different view HERE

I would like to thank everyone that was involved in the naming of the A380 “Johannesburg” and the management and all the staff of Lufthansa, especially the crew on the “Johannesburg” and Karin Dunker.

It was a dream come true and I really enjoyed every moment of it.

Thanks Lufthansa



Photo by: Nick Rees

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