Exclusive: Airbus poised to revamp A330 with Rolls-Royce

Fri Jun 27, 2014 6:27am EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus is set to upgrade its A330 with engines provided exclusively by Rolls-Royce, setting the stage for a bitter new phase in a battle for wide-body jet orders with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, people familiar with the matter said.

The move accelerates a growing interdependence between the European firms on large jets, with General Electric GE.N - the main alternative A330 engine supplier - no longer in the running for the $2 billion "A330neo" revamp, they said on Thursday.

Shares in Airbus and Rolls-Royce both rose as much as 1.8 percent against a flat market in early Friday trading.

The people, asking not to be named, said the provisional selection of Rolls as sole supplier for the revamped A330neo, offering up to 14-15 percent in fuel savings with the help of new wingtips, remains subject to Airbus Group board approval.

Board members at the Franco-German group are expected to meet in coming days ahead of the July 14-20 Farnborough Airshow, which is usually the showcase for major launch announcements.

It remains unclear whether Airbus will officially unveil the new project at the world's premier aviation event, since it usually waits to secure orders first.

Purchasing decisions are expected this year from some potential launch customers such as Delta Air Lines DAL.N, which is currently replacing Boeing 767 and 747 jets.

Airbus, which has promised investors a decision before the end of the year on whether to revamp the 253- to 295-seat A330 passenger jet, said none had been taken so far.   Continued...

Visitors walk past the logo of Airbus Group during the e-Aircraft Day at the Bordeaux Merignac airport, southwestern France, April 25, 2014.   REUTERS/Regis Duvignau