Airbus's axed A380 superjumbo may be getting a new lease on life, via a quirky new hotel concept dreamt up by one of the company's former engineers.
The converted aircraft hotel, dubbed Envergure (French for 'wingspan'), is slated to launch next door to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France – fittingly, also the city once home to the A380's assembly plant before ceasing production in 2021.
The stay is sure to appeal to aviation buffs, with its site positioned close to the Musée Aeroscopia, in the heart of Toulouse's aeronautical activity zone.
The one-of-a-kind project is being spearheaded by an ex-Airbus aeronautical engineer of 15 years, Frédéric Deleuze, in partnership with French developers Groupe Duval.
The world's biggest commercial aircraft, capable of seating more than 500 passengers, will be transformed into a three-star stay featuring 31 rooms across two decks.
Early design renderings show a converted superjumbo alongside a circular modern building extension, cleverly resembling a control tower.
The extension will house a 60-seat restaurant featuring bistro cuisine and seasonal produce, as well as a covered terrace area overlooking the fuselage, according to the project's website.
The aviation theme will weave its way into the design of the restaurant, with "travel and diversity" at the heart of the decoration and the dishes.
Envergure will feature three tiers of accommodation – Standard, Deluxe and Suite – with rates starting from €100 ($161) a night.
One of two suites will enjoy a prime spot in the cockpit, boasting a king-size bed and bathtub for onboard soaking.
A Duplex Suite at the rear of the aircraft will span two floors, feature two bedrooms, a bathroom, an office area, and an ensuite.
It's not yet clear where Deleuze will procure the aircraft for the project. Two-hundred and fifty superjumbos were built, with Emirates the A380's biggest customer, with 123 superjumbos in its fleet.
Deleuze told Traveller discussions around securing a plane are "well advanced but not yet finalised", in a statement translated from French.
"If all the lights are green – which is not the case yet – we hope to be able to open in mid-2024," Deleuze said.
"There are many remarkable characteristics given the nature of the project."
The double-decker A380 was once hailed as the future of air travel, with a trend towards mega-jets to solve issues around congestion. However, the development of smaller, more efficient planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 saw the giant superjumbo fall out of favour with airlines.