Airbus is to go ahead with plans to build a new generation version of the A380 super jumbo.
President and chief executive, Fabrice Brégier told The Sunday Times that the A380neo, which will have new engines, could be ready for sale in five years.
“We will move to the A380neo type. You can say that. Absolutely. We will need it between 2020 and 2025,” he said.
As well as new engines, the new version would have better wings, which be would be made at Airbus’s plant in Broughton, north Wales. The neo will cost $3 billion to develop.
The current £275 million A380 can carry up to 600 passengers — 150 more than the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
Brégier said Airbus had not decided whether the fuselage on the new version would be extended to provide more seats, but that the company would not do a stretched version “for one airline”.
New engines will help to cut the double decker aircraft’s operating costs.
The A380 programme has struggled to find customers; one carrier, Emirates, accounts for about half the 300 aircraft ordered so far.
Without more sales, the production line has only enough work to last to the end of the decade, according to the newspaper.
Brégier said he was “convinced there is a market” for a new A380 because trends in aviation with fast-rising passenger numbers and slot constraints at airports in many countries favouring bigger aircraft.
“The air passenger market is doubling every 15 years. Airlines can’t simply rely on flying more planes more often. We have to have larger aircraft,” he said.
“How can you imagine crowded Heathrow in 2030 without the A380? This is the same for New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Frankfurt and China in a few years.”
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