The trade war between Airbus and Boeing was once again in the spotlight at the Paris air show. The competition between widebodies results in endless new models. Now, there is competition between narrowbodied models like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320, which are workhorses and cash cows for both manufacturers. Airbus has decided to fit the A320 with new engines to create the A320 Neo which promises fuel savings of 15 percent.
Alan Pardoe, the Head of Marketing Communications at Airbus said: “To produce something really improved, we would have to wait for a new generation of engines rather than the ones we used for the Neo, and then it wouldn’t be in service before around 2030. New engines could give around 15% extra, but that’s not at all certain. So we’re concentrating on the Neo, and we have decided to relaunch a whole family of new aircraft with the same engines that we chose for the Neo. That’s the winning formula, because we can get this aircraft onto the market by the end of 2015.”
Boeing has not yet taken a decision, and we asked the company’s CEO Jim Albaugh whether this might not give the competition a big advantage?
He said: “We’ve got a backlog of, I think, 2,200 737s. We’re sold out on our product line almost to 2016. Obviously, our customers cannot wait forever but as I mentioned, they know we are going to do one of two things: the re-engine or a new “small” plane. In both cases they are going to get a more capable airplane than the Neo. So, I think that they are comfortable for a while, but they do know what we’re going to do.”
So both Airbus and Boeing threw their gauntlets down at the Paris Air Show.