Airbus Backs Plane-Upgrade Strategy in Face of Boeing 737 MAX Woes

Date : 21/05/2019 @ 13h02
Source : Dow Jones News
Valeur : Airbus SE (AIR)
Cours : 120.78  0.38 (0.32%) @ 12h45
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Airbus Backs Plane-Upgrade Strategy in Face of Boeing 737 MAX Woes

Airbus (EU:AIR)
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   By Robert Wall 

Airbus SE (AIR.FR) executives on Tuesday backed the process of upgrading older-model planes to offer airlines efficiency improvements in favor of always pursuing brand-new designs after two Boeing Co. (BA) 737 MAX crashes raised questions about whether legacy planes can evolve safely.

Boeing's 737 MAX has been grounded globally since mid-March after two fatal crashes of the model in less than five months. The model has drawn fire from some lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere for having its roots in a 1960s plane design that has been repeatedly updated. Safety approval since the start has largely focused only on the features that have changed incrementally.

But Airbus plays down the idea that the latest version of its competitor's planes was flawed because it was another upgrade.

"The MAX is not one stretch too many," Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told reporters.

Airbus has made upgrading existing planes a core part of its product strategy too, and is working on upgrading its A321LR, itself an upgrade of an earlier version of the company's largest narrowbody. Mr. Scherer says upgrading planes still makes sense in cases where incremental improvements don't warrant a brand-new design. The A321 could be further upgraded even beyond the so-called A321XLR that is now in the concept sage, he said.

Mr. Scherer reiterated Airbus's position that the MAX's grounding hasn't been beneficial for the European plane maker. And, echoing his chief executive, expressed concern the MAX crisis could dent public confidence in the safety of commercial air transport at large.

At a briefing to reporters, Airbus said it has devised upgrades for the A220 single-aisle plane it acquired from Canada's Bombardier Inc. (BDRBF). The change will allow the plane to carry 2.3 metric tons more weight, which translates into more fuel and around 450 nautical miles of additional range. That capability should be available from the second half of 2020, Airbus said.

Mr. Scherer downplayed concerns that soft order bookings at both Airbus and Boeing so far this year suggest that demand for new planes is slumping.

"It is only natural that you see ups and downs," he said. "I do not believe we are at the end of a cycle."


Write to Robert Wall at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 21, 2019 06:47 ET (10:47 GMT)

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