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Dec. 10--TOULOUSE, France--Kent Kawaguchi is intrigued by the prospect of flying on Airbus Industrie's mammoth A3XX -- and anxious at the prospect of getting off.
"I'd hate to be the guy in the last row in coach," said Kawaguchi, who heads Safeco's corporate travel and incentives department in Seattle. "That's where you are going to feel the wait."
Talk about pre-flight jitters. The world's biggest proposed jetliner might be due for an official launch later this month -- the manufacturer's formal go-ahead with production -- but the jet is still several years away from takeoff.
Still, with various models designed to carry between 555 and 800 people -- the largest has the carrying capacity of seven Boeing 737-600s -- the A3XX already is facing turbulence from skeptics.
It would be heavier, wider, longer and capable of carrying twice as many people as the reigning jumbo, the Boeing 747-400. It also would be the first jetliner with a true two-story passenger cabin, plus a third deck below for cargo.
Airbus is banking on the A3XX as its future flagship, crucial to its strategy to unseat Boeing as the world's dominant aircraft manufacturer.
Ever since Boeing halted its own superjumbo program in 1997, the Seattle aerospace giant has scoffed at the A3XX's commercial viability. Boeing executives disparage the aircraft's stout design as unwieldy and predict it won't sell well enough to justify the $12 billion-plus development cost.
Doubt about the A3XX isn't limited to Boeing. The …