Work to build the first of British Airways' new fleet of superjumbos started today in a boost to the airline's plans to fly more long-haul passengers.

The first of the carrier's 12 Airbus A380s, which is the largest civil aircraft ever made and is capable of seating up to 853 passengers on two decks, is expected to be delivered next year.

Work today started to build various sections of the plane across the world, including the engines which will be made by Rolls-Royce in Derbyshire and the wings by Airbus in Flintshire, North Wales.

BA's first superjumbo will help the airline fly more long-haul passengers from Heathrow, where landing slots are restricted.

The carrier has also ordered 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which would make it the first airline to have both types of craft.

The orders of new planes are part of a £5 billion investment plan over the next five years that includes refurbishing other craft in its fleet.

BA's chief executive Keith Williams said: "We're really excited that work has started on building the first of our 12 Airbus A380s.

"They represent a significant part of a huge investment by British Airways of £5 billion over the next five years in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground."

BA has already raised the height of the roof on one of its aircraft hangars at Heathrow to accommodate the superjumbo's 24 metre high tail fin.