The two leaders took pains to point out that the A380 is 2 metres longer, 4 metres taller, and 15 metres wider than America's Boeing 747, now a 35-year-old design. Beaming Mr Blair and Mr Chirac then looked at each other and went "MWAHAHAHAHA!".
The official plane, to receive the designation EU1, will be equipped with state of the art communications systems (including the ability to command French and British nuclear forces), emergency medical care, a 25-seat conference room, luxurious accommodation, a gym, a cordon-bleu restaurant, and a British pub. Airbus chief Noel Forgeard expressed satisfaction that at least one customer was ordering the plane's much-hyped luxury features.
Reporters from French left-of-centre daily Libération criticised President Chirac over the projected cost of his €600M pied-a-ciel, to which he replied that Europe's leaders need the capabilities the new plane offers and that he would be sharing with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder his spacious facilities on the lower deck of the aircraft.
Prime Minister Blair showed slight surprise at the last remark, but made no comment. Sources close to the podium report that they later heard Mr. Blair arguing that he thought he was getting the lower floor, the one with the pub, and he had already invited Mr. Berlusconi.