Airbus's Leahy softens on possible A350 stretch

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Airbus appears not to be ruling out stretching its A350 further despite previously resisting the concept of a double-stretch of its baseline -900 twinjet.

Chief commercial officer for customers John Leahy seemed to soften his stance on the notion during the ISTAT conference in Barcelona.

“A stretch is a possibility, but we are not sure we would,” he said.

“It is pretty obvious that our friends in Seattle are coming up with a stretch of the 777 with 35 more seats. How big this market will be, we are not sure. But we are currently studying it.”

Leahy says, however, that Airbus is "certainly not" looking to embark on such a move in the immediate future.

His remarks followed a landmark agreement by Japan Airlines to take the A350-1000, currently the largest member of the family, as part of a deal for 31 A350s.

Leahy says that JAL was encouraged to switch to Airbus by the potential fuel savings.

The A350-1000 is being aimed at the 350-seat market. But this leaves a gap between the -1000 and the A380, the baseline configuration for which is over 500 seats.

Earlier this year Leahy dismissed the idea of double-stretching the A350, despite a shift in orders away from the A350-800 shrink and towards the larger members of the family, claiming that such measures have "never been shown to work".