Airbus's new "4 engines 4 long haul" promotional campaign for the A340 has met with a hostile reaction from US airframe and engine suppliers.

In what Virgin Atlantic's chairman Sir Richard Branson describes as a $5 million campaign, Airbus chose Farnborough for the debut of its new slogan, displaying it on a huge billboard on the flightline and on the engine nacelle of the Virgin A340-600. Advertisements have also been placed in the press.

The move marks a revival of an earlier controversial campaign, which Airbus undertook in 1999 to emphasise the four-engined A340's safety on Pacific routes compared to its twin-engined rival, the Boeing 777, which has to comply with extended range twin-engined operations regulations.

Boeing has ridiculed Airbus's latest effort, with vice-president marketing Randy Baseler claiming that the A340 has "twice as many turnbacks and diversions" as the 777. "The A340 also burns 20% more fuel per passenger, so it should be: 'four engines for the oil companies'," he adds.

US engine manufacturer sources say that the campaign raises serious questions about the use of safety as a marketing tool.

Source: Flight International