Airline unveils plans to pack record-breaking 853 people into new all-economy superjumbos designed to carry 525 people

An airline is planning the first regular flights for more than 800 passengers after buying a budget version of the Airbus A380, the world's largest airliner.

Air Austral, which is based on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, confirmed an order for two superjumbos at the Dubai Air Show and said it would operate them between Paris and the French overseas department from 2014.

The deal will put the A380 into service as the industry's largest people carrier and comes 80 years after the first wood and canvas plane touched down on the Indian Ocean island after making the 5,800 mile trip from Paris in 10 days.

The A380 entered service in 2007 and is designed to seat 525 people in ordinary three-class seating or 853 people when its two floors of cabins are filled with economy seats - giving it 8 times more capacity than Airbus's smallest model, the A318.


The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, comes in for a landing


A general view of Economy class on the Airbus A380 double decker jumbo jet. The seating will be like this throughout the new Air Austral planes

So far, buyers of the plane have focused on luring premium passengers with facilities from beds and showers in first class to a stand-up bar, with total seating of around 500 people.

Air Austral said its low-cost version would seat 840 people.

'We are convinced that airplanes with good priced tickets will help explode traffic figures,' founder and president Gerard Etheve said after announcing the deal on Tuesday.

The economy end of the airline market has performed relatively better during the financial crisis, but revenues everywhere have been battered by recession this year.

The budget version of the A380 aims at tapping growth in China, India and demand from airlines flying ageing Boeing 747s on high-density routes in markets like Japan, where rival Boeing dominates air travel.

Boeing's 747-400D, a version of the jumbo jet built for the Japanese domestic market, carries up to 660 people in one class.

Etheve said the airline he founded in 1975 had paid less than the $660 million list price for two Airbus A380s.

The aircraft was tested for the ability to evacuate over 800 people in cabin emergency tests before entering service.

The A380 deal, reported by Reuters earlier this week, includes options for a further two A380s to either serve future Caribbean routes or more flights to La Reunion.

Some other ways of transporting 853 people:

15 Greyhound MCI G4500 buses
120 Audi Q7 sports utility vehicles, or 84 Chrysler 300C stretch limousines

Two Boeing jumbo jets would be needed to carry 850 passengers. The plane has a capacity of 460 passengers.
A Eurostar train linking London with mainland Europe comprises 18 passenger carriages with a capacity of 750 seats.

Brittany Ferries Freight runs the Normandie Express ferry, which has a seating capacity of 850, from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and Caen.
426 tandems and one regular bike


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now