Airbus revamps A330 jet in long-haul battle with Boeing

Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:52am EDT
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By Sarah Young and Jack Stubbs

FARNBOROUGH England (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) announced a revamp of its twin-aisle A330 passenger jet on Monday, offering a cheaper alternative to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as the two planemakers vie for up to $250 billion in orders from cost-conscious airlines.

The European planemaker launched the A330neo to open Britain's July 14-20 Farnborough Airshow with a deal for 25 planes from leasing company Air Lease Corp (AL.N: Quote).

Airbus boss Fabrice Bregier predicted up to 100 purchase commitments this week for the model, which features new, more fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce (RR.L: Quote) engines.

Airbus is aiming to prolong the success of its A330 planes amid a challenge from Boeing's all-new carbon-fiber 787 Dreamliner.

The A330neo is also aimed at addressing poor sales of its own new A350-800, the smallest of the next-generation A350 family and a model which looks set to be halted or suspended as a result.

Air Lease Corp, which encouraged Airbus to upgrade the A330, said the new plane offered improved efficiency at a good price, and predicted it would extend the model's life by 20-25 years.

"There is a compelling price difference between the A330neo and any other wide body (plane). I think it was a very smart, astute move on the part of Airbus," Air Lease President and Chief Operating Officer John Plueger said.

Industry sources said the A330neo was likely to undercut the Boeing's 787 by about 25 percent based on the price of actual deals rather than list prices.   Continued...

A pilot looks out of the cockpit of an Airbus A350 aircraft as it is parked at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, southern England July 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Kieran Doherty