Emirates urged Airbus Group SE to treat its A380 super-jumbo to a full-grown stretch version instead of just a minor extension, as the biggest operator of the double-decker seeks to pack more passengers into its planes.
Airbus said at the Paris Air Show that it’s considering what it called a “little stretch” of the plane by adding panels to the fuselage that would enlarge it enough to accommodate 40 to 60 additional seats.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but perhaps not as many as we would have liked,” Emirates President Tim Clark said in a television interview at the expo Tuesday. .
The A380 is “vital” for Emirates’ business plan, Clark said, adding that the current plane is in “very good shape,” with dispatch reliability at 99 percent. Having ordered 140 A380s and already flying 62 of them, Clark said he would like to see the aircraft evolve and that offering new engines would go a long way toward increasing fuel efficiency.
Airbus Sales Chief John Leahy, by contrast, has said the board of the company probably won’t back an upgrade of the aircraft for just one customer and needs a broader market commitment for the A380, which has failed to win a new airline customer in more than two years.