"We are going back and forth on it," Airbus sales chief John Leahy said on the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow. "The jury is still out there [on] whether the [market wants] it." Airbus has been talking about a further stretch of the A350, dubbed the -2000, for some time. The aircraft would be about the same size as the Boeing 777-9X. Leahy has accused Boeing of having stretched the 777 only to achieve the unit-cost-reduction target, and not because the market is moving from the 777-300ER to even larger aircraft.
Depending on configuration, an A350-1000 in a typical layout is likely to have around 30 fewer seats than the 777-9X.
Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier indicated in a recent Aviation Week interview that the -2000 would be a relatively simple stretch of the -1000. If that were the case, the aircraft would likely lose some range over the smaller version.
Further changes to the Airbus A330neo are likely to be announced in Farnborough. Airbus has been considering an increase to the aircraft's maximum take-off weight, from the current limit of 242 tons to 245 tons -- or even higher -- but Leahy said some issues with aviation authorities still needed to be sorted out.
Airbus updated its global market forecast at the air show here. It predicts the market will grow by 142% over the next 20 years - 5.3% more than guided in 2015. Airlines and lessors will order 32,425 aircraft in the period, or 650 more than predicted in the last version of the forecast. Seventy-one percent of them will be narrowbody aircraft. In spite of the current order drought for the A380, Airbus is sticking to its bullish view of the market segment for that size aircraft. It believes there will be 1,500 orders for very large aircraft, a category that also includes the Boeing 747-8. Airbus currently has orders for 319 A380s, 193 of which had been delivered by the end of June.
Jens Flottau, AVIATION WEEK