Boeing has started assembly of the first 747-8 airliner, the world's only competitor to the Airbus A380 "superjumbo," the company announced May 8.

The aircraft, which is expected to be delivered to German carrier Lufthansa next year, has 467 seats and is a reported 16 percent more fuel-efficient than its 747 "jumbo jet" predecessor.

It has been stretched and widened to compete with the enormous Airbus A380, which can carry 525 passengers.

Boeing promises that the new aircraft will deliver "increased levels of passenger comfort, greatly improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions and noise" when it enters service.

The interior design is to feature a "curved, upswept architecture that gives passengers a greater sense of space and comfort" across the three classes on board.

There will also be more room for hand luggage and a lighting system that transitions through the flight to provide passengers with a more restful experience.

It can also fly for around 15,000 km, over 1000 km further than the standard 747, which puts non-stop routes such as New York to Hong Kong or London to Perth in range.