Airbus pushes for A330neo orders ahead of Farnborough Airshow

Wed Jul 9, 2014 5:21pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus is sprinting to line up preliminary orders for a revamped version of its A330 jet and is on stand-by to make an announcement as early as next week's Farnborough Airshow, but no decision has been taken, people familiar with the matter said.

The keenly awaited launch of the so-called A330neo hinges on the response of airlines and lessors being courted just days before the July 14-20 event, but the planemaker appears to be close to winning at least two provisional buyers, they said.

Airbus Group's board has not so far given official authorization to start marketing the plane, but is ready to do so depending on the level of commitments.

Publicly, Airbus this week played down the prospect of an immediate launch in what was partly seen as an effort to insure itself against perceptions of a flop if no announcement came.

Additionally, the project poses complex issues of production and strategy, including a virtually certain decision to halt or slow development of the newer but poor-selling A350-800.

Behind the scenes, however, efforts have accelerated to line up orders ahead of an announcement that could be the main feature of the civil side of the world's largest air show.

As a backstop, the Airbus board could discuss the matter on the eve of its July 30 half-yearly results.

"I think the A330neo will be launched at Farnborough, and if not, it won't be long in coming," said a senior industry source.   Continued...

The logo of Airbus Group is seen on the company's headquarters building in Toulouse, February 25, 2014 on the eve of its 2013 annual results presentation.  REUTERS/Regis Duvignau