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AIRBUS INNOVATION DAYS
Airbus chief operating officer -- customers
John Leahy had plenty to talk about (as
always) during the opening presentation
of the Airbus Innovation Days 2014 in
Toulouse on 11 June, before flying off to New York to
help lessor Amadeo promote the A380 to Wall Street.
That morning, Emirates had cancelled an order for
70 A350s (50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s).
These were originally ordered in 2007 and were
scheduled for delivery from 2019. Airbus put the
cancellation down to the Dubai carrier's changing
"It's not the world's greatest news, but Tim [Clark,
Emirates president] does change his mind from time
to time," said Leahy, adding that there would be no
commercial impact, given that the deliveries were
five years away.
In fact, Leahy said that since the news broke in
the early morning before the briefing, various airlines
had contacted Airbus about the possibility of earlier
deliveries. "There is already a queue of people
expressing interest in those slots."
After the cancellation, the largest in Airbus'
history, the OEM has 742 net orders for the A350
from 38 different airlines. Leahy said that Boeing
had received more cancellations for its 787 than
Airbus had for its A350, and added, "It's not that
relevant for either of us", pointing to a market for
small and large twin aisle aircraft of around 6,800
over the next 20 years. "Over 4,000 of these haven't
Clark had previously said that the A350 was
starting to become "marginal" to Emirates due to
its size. The fast growing carrier is facing capacity
issues at Dubai international Airport ahead of a move
to the new Dubai World Central Airport in the middle
of next decade, and appears to be basing it's fleet
around the larger A380 and Boeing 777.
In fact a report in the Financial Times in late June
said that Emirates was considering either the A350
or 787 for Middle East routes, giving credence to
Leahy's claim that Clark may reconsider at a later date.
Clark has been putting pressure on Airbus to
develop improvements to the A380, notably an
improved engine. Asked whether there was any
prospect of an A380neo, Leahy said, "there are
no plans to, but when your largest customer is
encouraging you, of course you'll study it."
Tom Williams, executive vice president -
programmes, said that the OEM was looking at 11
abreast seating on the super jumbo, which would
involve carving out some underutilised space on the
sidewall, while keeping the 18" width seats and same
Williams also doesn't see any pressing urgency on
the updated engines for the A380. "I don't feel any
rush to make decision -- there are campaigns we're
still pursuing and there's a healthy backlog."
Emirates was also the cheerleader for a stretched
A380, but again Williams says there is "no rush".
He added, "There are quite a few things that can
be done to optimise layout -- we got carried away in
working with airlines. A lot of people are coming back
and looking at more optimised layout."
He added: "I don't want to be in a situation where
we're developing aircraft with one customer in mind."
The A380 received a fillip recently with the
decision by India to lift a ban on A380 flights that
had been put in place as a protectionist measure
for local airlines, notably Air India. Kiran Rao,
executive vice president -- strategy and marketing
said that by the end of the year there'd be seven
A380 flights into India, operated by Emirates and
Singapore Airlines. "These are four, five, six hour
flights", he added, noting that the A380 is being
used as a medium-haul aircraft on some routes in
Again, he points to more optimised seating rather
than a stretch as the way forward. "Early airlines did
not consider premium economy, and the A380 really
lends itself to premium economy seating."
Like Williams, Rao believes that 11-abreast while
maintaining the 18" seat width as the way forward.
"We could get 30-50 [extra] seats without too much
innovation or thought. With [innovation and thought]
we can get beyond that." ✈
The ending of the Airbus-Boeing duopoly
is "inevitable" but it will take 20-25 years.
That was the message from Airbus chief
operating officer -- customers John Leahy.
"If you look at history of Airbus -- in
the first 25 years, we sold about 2,000
aircraft. That's 14% of our total sales. That
reality is going to be faced by any new
entrant to the market," he said, pointing to
issues such as single aircraft types going
up against families, and building up an
international support network. Airbus was
founded in 1970.
End of duopoly
"inevitable" -- but
The Airbus Innovation Days 2014 in Toulouse was a hot bed of news, writes Colin Baker
Centre of attention
Airbus chief operating officer
-- customers John Leahy
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