Airbus chief says A380 to match 777X, pans U.S. tax breaks

Mon May 19, 2014 6:59pm EDT
 
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(Editor's Note: Paragraph 11 contains language that may be offensive to some readers)

BERLIN (Reuters) - Airbus will keep evolving the design of its A380 superjumbo in response to Boeing's latest jetliner, the 777X, which has been bolstered by "unacceptable" Washington state subsidies, the head of the European planemaker said on Monday.

Speaking on the eve of the Berlin Airshow, Fabrice Bregier, the chief executive of the plane-making unit of Airbus Group (AIR.PA: Quote), lashed out at the $8.7 billion in tax breaks as transatlantic tensions flared anew over mutual charges of unfair aid.

Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) denies the tax breaks were unfair and said Airbus was receiving banned European support.

Airbus said the 777x presented a challenge to its superjumbo.

"We will face after 2020 the challenge of the Boeing 777X. It is clear that as the challenges evolve, the A380 will have to evolve as well," Bregier told reporters, without elaborating.

Bregier said he had grown more optimistic about a possible revamp of the A330 wide-body jet because of strong demand from airlines, but insisted no decision had been taken.

Airbus plans to decide later this year whether to upgrade the wide-body jet with new engines to provide fuel savings and better compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

"I am probably more optimistic than I was in January because, in January, I discarded the idea, but I can't tell you whether we will launch it or not," Bregier said.   Continued...

 
Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer attends the Airbus annual press conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse, January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau