Airbus jet re-launch heralds busy aerospace show

Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:46am EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Victoria Bryan

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - Airbus will kick off the Farnborough Airshow with up to 100 commitments for its revamped A330neo wide-body jet, industry sources said, deepening a contest with Boeing for up to $250 billion of orders at the core of the long-haul jet market.

After months of speculation, the European planemaker will on Monday unveil an upgrade of its popular but ageing A330, powered by Rolls-Royce engines and offering 14 percent in fuel savings. Airbus Group declined to comment.

The upgraded A330 is Airbus’s attempt to prolong the life of its profitable twin-aisle jet, as the European company tries to preserve market share against Boeing's much newer 787 Dreamliner.

The A330 has enjoyed a resurgence of sales because of delays in deliveries of Boeing’s technically ambitious but temperamental carbon-fibre jet, but it is in need of a refresh to keep selling.

Analysts say it also plugs a potential future gap in the Airbus wide-body jet portfolio after poor sales of its A350-800 - the minnow of the next-generation A350 family whose development looks set to be halted or suspended as a result.

The commercial debut of two models called A330-800neo and A330-900neo, first reported by Reuters, heads a busy schedule of announcements on day one of the show, at which Boeing could hit back promptly with new sales of its 787 Dreamliner.

Analysts have until now generally predicted a low-key show, because of steadily growing fears of airline overcapacity.

But industry sources gathering for the July 14-20 event said evidence pointed to well over 500 orders or commitments ranging from a 100-plane lessor deal to a single plane for Fiji. It may not be immediately apparent, however, how many orders are new.   Continued...

An Airbus Industrie A380 aircraft stands parked at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, southern England July 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Kieran Doherty