Airbus considers A380 revamp to lift sales: sources

Thu Feb 6, 2014 4:26pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) is exploring fresh ways to improve sales of the world's largest passenger jet after receiving a potentially crucial signal of support from at least one of its engine makers, industry sources said.

Faced with patchy demand for the A380 superjumbo, Britain's Rolls-Royce (RR.L: Quote) has indicated it may be willing to upgrade its Trent 900 engines to help Airbus dig its way out of a recent sales trough, the sources said, asking not to be named.

However, no decision has been taken and Airbus has said its first priority is to keep carrying out gradual improvements to the 525-seat aircraft, which entered service in 2007.

Rolls-Royce declined to comment on the reported proposal.

A spokesman for Airbus said the European company was "always looking into all kinds of avenues to keep our aircraft at the cutting edge" and listed areas continually being reviewed, including latest developments in engine technology.

"There are lots of studies but they do not necessarily need to become true," he added.

The A380's four engines are currently supplied by either Rolls-Royce or rival U.S. consortium Engine Alliance, owned by General Electric (GE.N: Quote) and Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N: Quote).

Engine Alliance said it was actively pursuing sales campaigns for contracts to power the aircraft, which is sold separately from its engines even though both are included in the A380's $414 million official sticker price.   Continued...

Flags with the new logo of aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group are seen on the entrance gate of the company's office building in Paris January 3, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier