Airbus takes flight with investors, media after order snub

Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:41pm EDT
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By Alwyn Scott and Tim Hepher

NEW YORK/TOULOUSE (Reuters) - Europe's Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) mounted a transatlantic charm offensive on Thursday to boost sales of the world's biggest jetliner, the A380, and shine the spotlight on its brand-new A350 - a day after its shares were hit by a record order cancellation.

Airbus teamed up with the same airline that canceled 70 A350s on Wednesday, Dubai's Emirates, and leasing company Amedeo to sell potential buyers on the merits of the A380 superjumbo.

Emirates is by far the biggest customer of the A380 but is disappointed that more airlines do not share its vision for the double-decker and shares an interest with Airbus and leasing partner Amedeo in developing a market for the $400 million jet.

But the pitch was not made directly to airlines. Instead, the companies went to New York to convince financiers and Wall Street analysts that the massive aircraft will not threaten industry profit margins and in fact would make economic sense.

If U.S. airlines don't use the A380, "they are leaving profits on the table for others to take," said Mark Lapidus, chief executive of Amedeo, speaking on the sidelines of a briefing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"We are a little concerned with how the Street will react to enlarging capacity," he said, noting that the executives of Airbus, Emirates and Amedeo are here to "broaden their knowledge" of how the airplane can make money.

By flying 500, 600 or more passengers into airports such as London Heathrow or Hong Kong, airlines can accommodate growing demand for air travel without adding additional flights.

"We're able to use it to grow revenue in a way that we wouldn't be able to do with any other aircraft type," said Nigel Hopkins, an Emirates executive vice president.   Continued...

An Airbus A380 takes part in a flying display during the opening of the 50th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol