Emirates on Wednesday confirmed its interest in an “efficient” A380 superjumbo.
Media reports this week said the Dubai-based airline is in talks with the French airplane manufacturer Airbus for an upgraded A380, called as 'A380plus' which will have larger winglets and other wing refinements to make it more fuel efficient.
In a statement to Arabian Business, a spokesperson said: “As the largest A380 operator and customer, we are naturally interested in any efficiency enhancements for the programme. There is nothing to announce at this time, but we regularly engage with Airbus on our fleet requirements.”
At present, the airline operates 95 A380s and has another 47 on order.
The upgraded superjumbo, which was unveiled this week's Paris Air Show, will have larger winglets to improve fuel-burn performance by up to 4 percent.
In the 2016/17 financial year, Emirates said jet fuel accounted for 25 percent of its operating costs – AED20.9 million ($5.68 million).
In a statement, Airbus said studies for the A380plus included aerodynamic improvements, including 4.7 metre (15 foot) wing extensions to boost efficiency.
The new model will benefit from an optimised A380 maintenance programme – the cost of the plane’s upkeep will be reduced by longer intervals between maintenance checks – and enhanced cabin features revealed in April.
The plane will also have an increased maximum take-off weight of 578 metric tons to allow for a denser format, or add 300 nautical miles of range with the existing 550-seat three-class configuration.
The overall benefit is a 13 percent cost per seat reduction versus today’s A380, the manufacturer claimed.
Airbus is seeking to revive sales of the flagship A380 after Emirates, its principal buyer, expressed repeated concerns over the aircraft.
In the statement this week, Airbus sales chief John Leahy said: “The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance.”
Didier Evrard, Airbus’s commercial programmes chief, told Bloomberg earlier this month that even a 1 percent fuel saving would be significant for the superjumbo, which carries 200 metric tons of kerosene for a typical long-haul flight.
The existing A380 wingtips “are not the most optimal part of the A380”, but the new ones represent a marked improvement, he added. “Ten or 15 years ago we were not able to design winglets with the right balance or drag,” Evrard said.
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