European planemaker Airbus SAS opened the Farnborough Airshow yesterday with confirmation it would sell revamped versions of its A330 wide-body jet powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and offering 14 percent fuel savings.
Deliveries of the A330neo are set to start in the fourth quarter of 2017, Airbus said in a statement, adding it would build A330-800neo and A330-900neo models.
Airbus is to incur development costs for the A330neo from next year to 2017, with an estimated impact of around 70 basis points on the group’s return-on-sales target for next year, the company said.
Reports on Sunday said that Airbus would begin the air show with up to 100 commitments for the A330neo, citing industry sources, stepping up a contest with Boeing Co for up to US$250 billion of orders at the core of the long-haul jet market.
The announcement of the upgraded A330, after months of speculation, is Airbus’ attempt to prolong the life of its profitable twin-aisle jet, as the company tries to preserve market share against Boeing’s much newer 787 Dreamliner.
“We have a very good business case and the A330neo, once in service, will continue to significantly contribute to our group’s earnings,” Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders said.
The A330neo is to have a range increase of up to 400 nautical miles (741km), with room for up to 10 extra seats in the cabin, Airbus said. The aircraft will also have aerodynamic improvements such as new wing tips, as well as an increased wingspan.
“We see strong market potential for the A330neo, and like its market-leading smaller sister, the A320neo, we are confident this new aircraft will be a success in the medium-haul segment,” Airbus division CEO Fabrice Bregier said.
Boeing said on Sunday it would launch an upgraded version of its 737 MAX airliner with new engines and more seats aimed at low-cost airlines.
CEO Ray Conner said the plane would have around 200 seats in an economy-class configuration.
The company has not received any orders for the twin-engine, single-aisle plane yet, but “we’re looking forward to competing whenever it comes up,” Conner said.
The Boeing 737 MAX planes are a family of mid-range airliners with more efficient engines that are designed to compete with the new Airbus A320neo.
The new version is set to have 11 more seats than the current 737 MAX 8, after the addition of a door on either side of the fuselage to comply with evacuation regulations, Conner said.
Boeing also said it had nothing to fear from a new version of the wide-body Airbus A330.