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Airbus Works to Reverse A380 Trend After Drawing Blank This Year

Airbus Group NV is confident it can reverse the momentum for the A380 super-jumbo after failing to win a single new order for its biggest aircraft in the first half as it pushes the high-capacity appeal of the jet.

The manufacturer is hopeful about pulling in orders for the double-decker in the remaining six months of the year, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said today at the Farnborough Air Show. He’s discussing the layout with airlines for the aircraft, designed to seat about 550 people, though most operators have opted for lower-density cabins.

“We’re talking to quite a few customers right now,” said Leahy, who is the chief salesman at the Toulouse, France-based company. “Most layouts we are looking at could have 50 more seats with very little change. We know you can improve on the economics of the plane by optimising the interior.”

Airbus is under pressure to turn around the sales prospects of the A380, which has failed to attract a new airline customer in two years. Marketed originally as an aircraft on routes with high passenger flows, airlines including Korean Air Lines Co. have instead focused on fitting the aircraft with luxury perks such as duty-free shops and showers, cutting space for seats.

The A380 has fared best in the Middle East, where Emirates alone has purchased 140 units, almost half the total backlog. Qatar Airways Ltd. and Etihad Airways PJSC are both due to take the aircraft this year, though Qatar has delayed the entry into service amid disputes with Airbus about the cabin specifications. Airbus is showing a test aircraft at this year’s air show on a daily flight display.

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