New Pilots

Airbus Expects More A380 Orders This Year

2015 11 09

Airbus expects to sell more A380s this year, but a potential deal may not be completed until early 2016, chief executive Fabrice Bregier said.

Asked whether Airbus still aimed to win a new order in 2015 for the double-decker, Fabrice Bregier told Reuters news agency, "I think so, yes... and if it slips into next year this is not a drama. I think we will have some new customers."

The A380 is looking particularly competitive because of weaker oil prices, he added.

Airbus is also looking at whether to upgrade the aircraft, as requested by its largest customer Emirates, but will only do so when the time is right and once a solid business case has been established, he said.

Asked whether Airbus planned to lengthen the A380 in order to increase its 544-seat standard capacity, Bregier said, "It is too early to say. We can stretch this aircraft; the problem is to see whether we would have a sensible market for that."

Bregier added, "I am pretty sure we will stretch the aircraft. I have said 'one day' and this 'one day' is perhaps after the launch of the so-called A380neo."

Emirates president Tim Clark earlier urged Airbus to push ahead with the A380neo and downplayed reports that the upgrade could include a decision to stretch the plane.

"A stretch is feasible at marginal cost, but it depends on our market appreciation and so far the challenge is to convince new airlines that they can profitably increase their market share with an aircraft which is, it's true, much bigger than what they are used to fly," Bregier said.

Bregier denied that Airbus was concerned about the performance of the largest version of its mid-sized A350 aircraft, the A350-1000.

He described the A350-1000 as "a very competitive aircraft" and bluntly dismissed Boeing's 777-8X, an upgraded version of the 777 that sits closest to the A350-1000 in size. "The 777-8X is nowhere," he said.

Airbus is however widely said to be under pressure from a larger version of the upgraded 777, the 406-seat 777-9X, which threatens to squeeze sales of both the A350-1000 and the A380.

Boeing says its updated 777X family will be the most efficient wide-body jets, relative to the number of seats.

Industry sources say Airbus is studying expanding the A350 family with a larger jet dubbed Airbus A350-1100 to take on the 777-9X using new engines, extended wings and over 400 seats.

Asked about comments by industry sources that Airbus is already discussing such a plane with potential airline customers, Bregier said, "Not that I am aware of".

Noting that Airbus was focused on a sharp ramp-up in production of the smaller A350-900, which entered service this year, Bregier did not rule out further expanding the A350 family but said this was not on his to-do list any time soon.

"If there is extra potential on this family, and there will be extra potential, we will try to grab it but this is not today's priority," he said.

"We are just at the beginning of a fantastic long-range family and we will continue to invest in it," he added.