Chinese launch seen for regional version of Airbus A330

Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:40pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus EAD.PA will launch a short-range "Regional" version of its best-selling A330 wide-bodied jet at an airshow in China on Wednesday, industry sources said.

The announcement may come with a new order for the aircraft, which will be adapted for shorter and more frequent trips than the current long-distance version. Airbus is acting in part to capture burgeoning growth in China's crowded domestic market.

EADS subsidiary Airbus declined to comment.

The European company's sales chief said earlier on Tuesday he would make product and commercial announcements at the Beijing's Aviation Expo, but declined to give details.

Industry sources said the Sept 25-28 event would be a showcase for the shorter-stride version of the A330, which is designed to cope with relatively short but busy routes.

The standard aviation industry workhorses for short- and medium-haul flights are the smaller narrowbody, single-aisle jets like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families.

Until now, both companies have ploughed most of their efforts into making their larger wide-body jets fly further with more passengers, while burning less fuel.

But Airbus has begun deliberately scaling back two long-haul designs, the A330 and the future A350, by limiting engine thrust and weight capacity to optimize them for airlines that want extra seats without paying for unused range.   Continued...

An Aeroflot Airbus A330 plane heading to the Cuban capital Havana takes off at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin