The boss of Emirates has called on Airbus to supply a revamped version of the A380 superjumbo with more fuel-efficient engines by 2020.

The airline’s president Tim Clark (pictured) told the Financial Times that the fast-growing Gulf carrier, which has ordered 140 A380s, could be willing to buy an additional 60 to 80 superjumbos.

But he is pushing the European manufacturer to begin preparatory work to make sure it is ready by 2020 to supply an improved version featuring new Rolls-Royce engines.

Airbus has so far refused to commit to a new engine option of the A380, saying only that it will study the case for such an aircraft entering service sometime in the 2020s.

Clark said an A380neo would boost the aircraft’s sales because more fuel-efficient engines and other modifications could reduce the aircraft’s operating costs by between 8% and 10%.

“We have made it crystal clear to [Airbus] in the event of the [A380] neo being launched we would buy it,” Clark said.

He urged Airbus to finalise details for a revamped A380 and then approach other airlines to gauge their interest.

Clark said Dubai-based Emirates’ fleet of A380s could grow from 50 today to as many as 180 because he expects the airline to move to a new, bigger airport sometime after 2020.

The current A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, can carry more than 500 people and has a catalogue price of $414 million.

Fabrice Brégier, chief executive of Airbus’ passenger jet business, said this month there was “no urgency” to put new engines on the A380, saying his focus was on increasing sales of the existing superjumbo.