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France’s Airbus has unveiled plans to upgrade the world’s biggest passenger jet, A380, promising greater fuel efficiency and room for more seats.
The A380Plus, which was announced ahead of the Paris Airshow, will boast a new wing design intended to improve aerodynamics.
Airbus also said the cabin had been optimised to allow up to 80 extra seats “with no compromise on comfort”.
The move has been seen as way of boosting flagging sales of the A380, BBC reports.
There has been a dearth of orders for the plane as more airlines opt for smaller twin-engine jets, which cost less to fly and maintain.
The European plane maker said the new version would burn up to 4 per cent less fuel thanks to its new winglets, which are designed to reduce drag.
It will also have an increased maximum take-off weight and need less regular maintenance checks.
Airbus said that along with other enhancements, the plane would cut costs for airlines by 13 per cent per seat.
Sales chief John Leahy said the plane would offer “better economics and improved operational performance”.
In its tweets by AirlineGeeks.com, its said @Airbus shows off new winglets in a study for a more efficient A380 design coined as the “A380plus
Airbus PRESS also said: “Introducing #A380plus,further increasing A380’s efficiency w/ winglets to provide up to 4 % fuel burn savings,” to confirm the BBC’s report.
Reuters had earlier reported that Airbus (AIR.PA) was considering doing away with one of the hallmarks of its A380 superjumbo, a “grand staircase” echoing the era of cruise ships, as it looks to revive sales of the world’s largest airliner, industry sources said.
The idea of a slimmed down staircase, as well as adding fuel-saving wingtips, is aimed at lowering the huge double-decker’s operating costs and boosting its fuel efficiency.
The provisionally dubbed A380-Plus makeover would add 40-50 seats to increase the standard interior’s capacity to more than 600 seats which would help airlines reduce their costs per passenger.
To make room for those extra passengers, the A380 would do away with the double staircase at the front of the plane in favour of something more compact. The narrower spiral staircase at the back would also be modified.
Airbus officials declined to comment on the plans, which have yet to be finalised and approved.
“Airbus is always studying opportunities to improve our aircraft,” a spokesman said.
The sweeping staircase is one of the first features passengers see on boarding an A380 and captured attention when the A380 was first rolled out as a ‘cruise ship of the skies’ in 2005.