Emirates in talks with Airbus over 'A380plus' - report

New aircraft would enable 4 percent fuel savings, helping Emirates to slash costs

Emirates is in talks with Airbus over a proposed new A380 the French manufacturer has dubbed the ‘A380plus’, according to reports from Paris.

Arabian Aerospace magazine said Emirates is “in talks with Airbus” about the proposed enhanced A380, the ‘A380plus’, which was unveiled at the Paris Airshow this week.

The upgraded superjumbo has larger winglets and other wing refinements that allow for up to 4 percent fuel burn savings, Airbus claims – helping Emirates to slash fuel costs across its fleet.

In the 2016/17 financial year, jet fuel accounted for 25 percent of the Dubai-based carrier’s operating costs – AED20.9 million ($5.68 million), it reported in May.

In a statement this week, 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.”

It remains to be seen whether the improvements are enough to persuade Emirates to add new A380s to its fleet. Emirates declined to comment.

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.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for Airbus said: “We do not comment on discussions which may or may not be happening.”

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