PARIS 2015: Airbus “never better placed”

Airbus chief executive officer Fabrice Bregier celebrated a week with 421 aircraft commitments and orders, list-price valued at $57 billion, by declaring, “Globally we have never been better placed. We’ve never had such a new family of aircraft.”

Of those 421 commitments, 124 are firm aircraft orders worth $16.3 billion, again at list price. “It all confirms that there is an extremely positive market,” Bregier added.

That position will play a part in the decision as to whether there will be a ramp up in production of the A320 family beyond the current 50 aircraft a month. “The next step for the single-aisle family is the beginning of production at our new Mobile, Alabama, assembly line. By the end of 2017, Mobile will be producing 4 aircraft a month as part of our global ramp up,” Bregier noted.

Asked about potential supply chain problems following comments from suppliers – in particular Safran and its CFM joint venture with GE – about whether or not they could meet much higher rates by the 2018-19 timeframe, Bregier responded, “I appreciate that position of talking about increasing rates even before entry into service, but I will I educate my partners that when we make such increases in rate it may be a risk, but it is one that is under control.”

John Leahy, the OEM’s chief operating officer–customers, was also in buoyant mood, having announced the MoU with Wizz Air for 110 A321neos just prior to the wrap-up press conference. “That order will push us past the 4,000th A320neo family aircraft sold,” he highlighted.

Leahy turned his attention to the question of a new “middle of the market” aeroplane, commonly described as a 757 replacement and one which Boeing has discussed as being a brand new aircraft for the mid-2020s. “That aeroplane is here already and it is the A321LR," he declared before taking a cheeky swipe at his competitior. “Whenever anybody talks about a new aircraft in 2025 it’s hot air – today is 2015. If all they do is talk about 2025 then that’s a lot of A321LRs [that will be sold by then].”

One of Airbus’s orders at the show was the launch of the A330 Regional by Saudi Arabian Airlines, an aircraft developed with the Chinese market in mind. It was no surprise therefore that when aske about Airbus’s future in that market, Leahy turned the discussion to the new model. “Our forecast shows that 20 years from now the biggest market in the world will be domestic China. That means a huge amount of growth, which is why we are talking about the A330 Regional. It is possible that we may even a have a production line in Tianjin,” he commented.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Le Bourget, Paris, France

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