Airbus Group SE could decide by mid-year whether to introduce a new, larger model of its A350 long-range aircraft to better challenge Boeing Co.’s biggest, planned twin-engine jetliner.
Airbus currently builds the A350-900, which seats around 325 passengers, and this year hopes to fly for the first time the slightly larger -1000 version, with around 41 more seats. Deliveries of the A350-1000 should start next year, said Fabrice Brégier, president of Airbus’s commercial plane unit.
Airbus is exploring adding 32 to 35 seats to the A350-1000, John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers at Airbus said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. A decision on whether to pursue the upgrade could be made in the first half of this year, he said.
Boeing plans to introduce a new version of its popular 777 long-range jet toward the end of the decade. The 777-9 would come with more seats and a new engine that burns less fuel.
Adding seats as Boeing is doing on the 777 and Airbus is considering on the A350 boosts per-seat economics and can help the sales case to airlines.
Mr. Leahy said the stretched A350-1000 should enter service around the same time as the rival Boeing plane, if Airbus gives the project the go ahead. He said Airbus is in talks with several airlines about potentially stretching the A350.
Mr. Brégier played down the immediacy of any decision, though. Airbus has a lot of work already ongoing with the existing A350 versions, he said, and there are numerous technical and financial issues to resolve about whether to pursue the new project.
Mr. Leahy said the aircraft could probably be powered by the engine being used by the A350-1000, rather than requiring a new development. Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is the exclusive engine provider on the A350-1000.
Deciding on whether to introduce a new version of the A350 has greater priority than determining whether Airbus should upgrade its A380 superjumbo, Mr. Leahy says. Airbus has been studying whether to put new, more efficient engine on the double-decker plane and add some seats to improve its economics…Fuente: http://www.4-traders.com/AIRBUS-GROUP-4637/news/Airbus-Could-Decide-By-Mid-Year-Whether-to-Introduce-Larger-A350-Model-21677516/