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Originally published Monday, November 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Branson favors planned Airbus 900-seat A380

Billionaire Richard Branson said Sunday he'd prefer a 900-seat version of the Airbus A380 superjumbo for his Virgin Atlantic Airways and...

Billionaire Richard Branson said Sunday he'd prefer a 900-seat version of the Airbus A380 superjumbo for his Virgin Atlantic Airways and would wait for a stretched version of the aircraft to be developed.

"Ideally, we'd like Airbus to stretch them, because for the A380 to be really competitive it needs to be even bigger than it currently is," Branson said.

Branson, whose airline has six A380s on order, according to the Airbus Web site, is the second customer to say he favors the longer version. Airbus' biggest customer, Emirates, last week said it wanted an extended model.

The stretched superjumbo would be designated the A380-900, Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said Thursday. The new version of the jetliner would enter the market around 2015, he said.

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