Exclusive: Airbus may ditch A380's grand staircase as sales tumble

Wed Mar 8, 2017 4:25am EST
 
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By Tim Hepher

(Reuters) - Airbus is considering doing away with one of the hallmarks of its A380 superjumbo, a "grand staircase" echoing the era of cruise ships, as it looks to revive sales of the world's largest airliner, industry sources said.

The idea of a slimmed down staircase, as well as adding fuel-saving wingtips, is aimed at lowering the huge double-decker's operating costs and boosting its fuel efficiency.

The provisionally dubbed A380-Plus makeover would add 40-50 seats to increase the standard interior's capacity to more than 600 seats which would help airlines reduce their costs per passenger.

To make room for those extra passengers, the A380 would do away with the double staircase at the front of the plane in favor of something more compact. The narrower spiral staircase at the back would also be modified.

Airbus officials declined to comment on the plans, which have yet to be finalised and approved.

"Airbus is always studying opportunities to improve our aircraft," a spokesman said.

The sweeping staircase is one of the first features passengers see on boarding an A380 and captured attention when the A380 was first rolled out as a 'cruise ship of the skies' in 2005.

However, sales have fallen in recent years due to advances in smaller twin-engined jets, which cost less to fly and maintain.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO: Interior view shows the stairs between two decks in the Airbus A380 at Frankfurt Airport, Germany, March 22, 2007.  REUTERS/Alex Grimm/File Photo