PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) will not abandon its A380 jumbo jet program despite slow sales, its chief executive told Les Echos newspaper, and needs more time to decide whether to redesign its engines as major customer Emirates Airline has requested.
Emirates, the leading buyer of the existing A380 jet with 140 orders, has been pushing Airbus to revamp the plane with newer engines, a move that could lower the number of seats airlines must sell to break even.
Airbus boss Fabrice Bregier appeared to rebuff the request in the interview with Les Echos published online on Sunday.
"We are already working on ways to make the A380 more attractive economically by adding seats while preserving the amazing comfort of the plane," he said.
"Long-term, the question will be how to improve its performance by working on aerodynamics and motorization. But we will not do that until a good business plan can be found. That is not the case now and we have no intention to spend indiscriminately."
The CEO added that the A380 program would break even by the end of the year, and that Airbus hoped to maintain its financial performance.
On Airbus' other new relatively new model, the A350, Bregier said that Qatar Airways has seen no issues with the plane after two months of service. Airbus aims to deliver about 15 A350s this year and eventually up to 10 per month by 2018.
Reporting by Leila Abboud, editing by David Evans