Airbus Industrie has backed away from a full-blooded confrontation with Boeing over support for A340-300s being traded to its US rival by Singapore Airlines (SIA) in exchange for 777s. The consortium is also dismissing a claim from Boeing that it has undertaken similar aircraft buy-back deals.

In the Airbus internal newspaper Forum, senior vice-president commercial John Leahy is quoted talking about a confidential business plan designed to hinder Boeing's efforts to remarket the A340s, which is understood to centre upon the withdrawal of support for the aircraft (Flight International, 28 July-3 August). Sources within Airbus now deny that it has threatened potential buyers of the A340s with a refusal to provide support.

Airbus says the likelihood is that any airline purchasing the aircraft will already be an Airbus customer, "in which case they are entitled to a support package, but not under the same conditions as if the aircraft were bought direct from us".

Such a package will not go with the Boeing-sold A340s if the purchaser is not an existing operator. However if at least one new aircraft is purchased directly from Airbus "then a deal could probably be agreed", says the source.

Meanwhile, Airbus denies a Boeing claim that it has been forced to buy back four 767-300ERs from Gulf Air as part of the deal for six A330-200s. "We remarketed them, but they will never be owned by us," says Airbus.

Source: Flight International