IATA: Boeing counts on its experience in battle with C919

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Boeing is confident that it will be able to retain the edge over the new Comac C919 twinjet even in the Chinese manufacturer's home market.

The US airframer is not prepared to underestimate the C919. But Comac has an uphill climb, says Ihssane Mounir, Boeing's senior vice-president, sales and marketing, for Greater China and Korea.

"We know a thing or two about how tough that learning curve is," he says. "It's steep, it's tough, it's capital-consuming, it knocks you down. It knocks you down hard."

He admits that competition from the C919 will be a "headache" but is certain that this will simply act as an incentive for the US airframer to improve its own line.

"[Comac] will build a robust and competitive airplane - they're incredibly committed," says Mounir. "If the Chinese say they'll do something, they will."

The C919's pricing and economics have yet to be analysed, he says. But he is unconcerned that the C919 might have an advantage simply by virtue of being a Chinese product.

"It's no different than what we're doing with Airbus," says Mounir. "Once you're established with a carrier, it makes it that much tougher to switch to something else."

He adds: "We build aircraft the customers want. We don't build it, then sell it - we sell it, then build it."

Boeing estimates that, of the demand for some 2,400 aircraft over the next decade in China, narrowbodies will account for around 1,600.

The airframer is reinforcing its position with its re-engined 737 Max, having organised a roadshow to promote the new type in China earlier this year.

Mounir says Chinese carriers have shown "tons and tons" of interest in the Max, and he says: "I think you'll hear about the Max in China this year."