IATA: Leahy believes A320neo will keep lead over Max

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Airbus believes the A320neo’s development entails a relatively higher proportion of improvement that will enable it to retain its sales lead over the rival Boeing 737 Max.

By the end of the first quarter of 2014 the A320neo had a 58:42 sales advantage over the 737, close to the 60:40 split which Airbus is claiming as a long-term trend.

Speaking during the IATA annual meeting in Doha, Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy was confident that Boeing would not make up the gap.

“We were able to do more with the A320 family [in developing the A320neo] than [Boeing] from the 737NG to the Max,” he says.

Although Airbus opted for the A320neo before Boeing committed to the Max, Leahy dismisses suggestions that the sales lead is the result of first-mover advantage.

He attributes it instead to greater improvements to develop the A320neo compared with those to create the Max. “It’s the natural order of things,” he says.

Leahy was speaking after Air New Zealand opted for the A320neo and A321neo to modernise its single-aisle fleet.

The A321neo is becoming a “very popular aircraft”, he says, and expects the type to account for more than 50% of future single-aisle production.

Airbus is pushing the A321neo – for which it is aiming to offer layouts up to 240 seats – not only as a Boeing 757-200 replacement but also a successor to the 767-200.

“Lots of airlines are moving to larger aircraft,” says Leahy. “[The A321neo] is amazingly efficient if you fill it up.”

This shift has been reflected in weak sales for the smaller family members, the A319neo and 737 Max 7, which have secured orders for around 100 aircraft between them.