Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Airbus chief eyes overtaking Boeing

AFP, BERLIN

A Japan Airlines staff member displays a scale model of an Airbus A350 at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday last week.

Photo: AFP

Airbus chief Fabrice Bregier says the European planemaker will overtake its US rival Boeing to become the world’s biggest producer within four or five years, in an interview with a German Sunday newspaper.

Bregier told Welt am Sonntag that Airbus would step up production through its new A320Neo and long-haul A350 models.

“In 2017-2018, we will therefore again be able to gain the lead also in deliveries,” the Airbus chief executive said according to an extract of the interview that was to appear in German in yesterday’s edition.

Airbus will deliver more than 600 aircraft this year and more next year, he said, adding that in terms of orders, it would also beat its target.

“2013 is becoming an excellent year for Airbus,” he said.

Airbus last week announced a US$9.5 billion deal with Japan Airlines, its first jet order from the carrier, challenging Boeing’s dominance in the Japanese market as it struggles with the troubled Dreamliner.

The fuel-efficient aircraft, marred by years of production delays, faced a global grounding order in January after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two different planes, with one of them catching fire while the aircraft was parked.

Bregier also criticized the comfort of the 787 Dreamliner, telling the Welt newspaper he had seen a cabin with nine seats in a row.

“For me, it’s clear that as a passenger, I wouldn’t like to sit 12 hours long in there,” he said.

Referring to the Dreamliner’s technical problems, he said: “From my team, I expect the commissioning of the A350 to run much smoother.”

Like Boeing’s Dreamliner, the Airbus A350 is to be made mainly of lightweight composite materials to save fuel, which can currently account for more than half of overall airline operating costs.

In November 2011, Airbus announced a six-month delay in the first delivery of the A350 to the first half of next year. In July last year, it said there would be another delay of about three months to the second half of next year.

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