Airbus predicts A350 sales at Le Bourget

After facing stiff competition from the 787 Dreamliner, Airbus is hoping to seal some deals at this year's Paris air show.

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By  Neil Denslow & Laura Barnes Published  May 31, 2005

Airbus is predicting that it will announce around 100 orders for the A350 at this month’s Paris air show. The A350 has got off to a slow start with only 10 aircraft ordered from Spain’s Air Europa, against its rival, the Dreamliner, scoring up large deals from airlines across the world including Northwest, Japan Airlines, Air Canada and Ethiopian. However, Middle East carriers could turn this around for Airbus if they opt for the manufacturer’s mid-range aircraft over the 787 Dreamliner. Qatar Airways has been discussing a possible 60 aeroplane deal with Boeing and Airbus for some time, expressing interest in mid-range planes. However, Akbar Al-Baker, CEO Qatar Airways refused to be drawn on which manufacturer the Qatari flag carrier would opt for. “We hope to conclude a deal at Paris, with one or both of them… but it depends if they are able to meet that deadline, and we are not going to be rushed into a decision,’ he said. Likewise, Etihad Airways may also announce a deal at Paris, adding to the 20 planes it has on order from Boeing and Airbus. Emirates, meanwhile, is evaluating the A350 and the 787. However, the carrier is likely to save any major announcements for the Dubai air show in November. The airline manufacturer however, hopes to draw trade from existing clients and John Leahy, chief commercial officer, Airbus adds that the larger cabin will attract Middle East carriers who prefer bigger aircraft. The A350-800 has 258 seats, 26 more than the 787-800 and 29 more seats in the -900 range. The aircraft also has a greater range, lower costs and is more fuel efficient, as well as cockpit commonality with the A330 and A340 family. “It has taken an awfully long time to bring out the A350 as we wanted to make sure it was right. But I am confident of orders from Air Canada and Northwest at Paris air show. I predict orders to be in triple figures after the Le Bourget and hopefully Middle East airlines will come on board,” said Leahy, who has returned to work ahead of the air show after being in hospital for five weeks.

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