Airbus is offering its customers an enhanced version of the A380 dubbed the A380-plus, seeking to regain market traction with its biggest aircraft.

The new version will feature 13% lower costs per seat compared to the current A380, according to Airbus. The A380-plus, if firmly launched, will feature new winglets and some wing refinements that, the manufacturer expects, will lead to a fuel-burn reduction of up to 4%. Furthermore, Airbus is targeting a significant reduction of maintenance by stretching intervals and reducing down time for the six-year check. The A380plus also includes proposed changes to the interior that will allow for the addition of up to 80 seats in a four-class configuration.

The A380-plus is Airbus’s latest attempt to attract more customers to the program, which has been in crisis mode for some years. But the project falls way short of the A380neo, a study Airbus has looked at before and that would have involved a re-engining of the aircraft. Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Brégier said earlier this month that there was clearly “no business case” for the more extensive changes that would have involved.

The A380-plus will feature an increased maximum takeoff weight of 578 tons, compared to 575 tons for the current version. That will allow airlines to carry the up to 80 more passengers over the same range (8,200 nm) as the existing aircraft or increase the range by 300 nm for ultra-long-haul missions.

Airbus is reportedly talking to Emirates about another follow-up order for around 20 more A380s that could be announced at the Dubai Air Show in November. Securing further commitments in the short term is crucial for Airbus to be able to avoid having to decide further production cut-backs. 

Jens Flottau/Aviation Week  jens.flottau@aviationweek.com