EADS hikes Airbus order goal, A350 to fly in weeks

Wed May 29, 2013 9:48am EDT
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By Tim Hepher

(Reuters) - Airbus is on course to sell more than 800 aircraft in 2013, beating its initial order target by more than 100 units, the chief executive of parent EADS EAD.PA said on Wednesday.

The comments point to potentially robust sales at the Paris Air Show next month, where Airbus will battle arch-rival Boeing (BA.N: Quote) for a slice of demand driven by new fuel-saving models.

"I am comfortably forecasting that Airbus gross orders will be well above 800 units in 2013," EADS CEO Tom Enders told a shareholders' meeting in Amsterdam.

Cumulative orders between January and April stood at 514 aircraft. Airbus started the year with a sales goal of 700 after slipping behind U.S. competitor Boeing last year. The company's sales chief last month predicted full-year orders of 750 jets.

Enders said the keenly awaited maiden flight for the latest Airbus jetliner, the A350, could take place in coming weeks and took a swipe at rival Boeing for unveiling an incomplete aircraft when it first rolled out the 787 Dreamliner in 2007.

The first complete A350 rolled out of the paint factory earlier this month, and industry sources have said it could fly before the June 17-23 air show, with a flypast at Le Bourget.

"(The A350) did not have rivets from Wal-Mart; it was a real aircraft with real rivets and everything else is real as well," Enders said.

Boeing was criticized for displaying a presentational shell when it rolled out the 787 in a lavish ceremony in 2007. The aircraft first flew in 2009 and entered service two years later.   Continued...

An A380 aircraft is seen through a window with an Airbus logo during the EADS / Airbus 'New Year Press Conference' in Hamburg January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen