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(Reuters) - Airbus believes introducing a sales-boosting upgrade to its A380 aircraft in 2022 may be too early, Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier said at an industry gathering in New York on Thursday.
The planemaking unit of Airbus Group SE (AIR.PA) is looking at whether to upgrade the A380, the world's largest passenger jet, as requested by its largest customer Emirates [EMIRA.UL].
While buy-in from Emirates is crucial, Airbus still must justify to other airlines that the jumbojet has a market, Bregier said before the aviation group known as the Wings Club.
"People love the A380 as passengers. But airlines don't," he said.
Airbus had been expected to introduce the A380 upgrade in 2022 or 2023.
Last year, there were zero orders placed by commercial airlines for new jumbo 747 aircraft from rival Boeing Co (BA.N) or Airbus A380s, reflecting a fundamental shift in the airline industry toward smaller, twin-engine planes.
Smaller planes cost less to fly than the stately, four-engine jumbos, which can carry as many as 525 passengers. However, a recent drop in fuel prices has helped the A380 look more competitive.
Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby