The first of British Airways planned fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos is due to land at Heathrow for the first time today.

It will herald the start of a long-haul fleet replacement programme following the arrival of the airline’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner last week.

The move will allow BA to start retiring 52 ageing 747s and replace them with modern fuel-efficient aircraft.

It will also enable new routes to be launched from capacity squeezed Heathrow.

The carrier plans to take delivery of 78 more widebody aircraft over the next decade, including 12 A380s, 18 A350s, 42 Dreamliners and six 777-300ERs.

BA chief executive Keith Williams told the Financial Times: “While some of these aircraft will replace older members of our fleet, many of them will allow us to grow our worldwide network and offer customers new and exciting destinations.”