Airbus is analysing feedback from a series of focus group meetings with international carriers and leasing companies to determine the best solution for finding a future 200-250-seat replacement for its A300/A310 family.

The company recently convened meetings in Amsterdam, Fort Worth and Singapore with a selection of operators, including American Airlines, CIT Aerospace and Emirates. The results were scheduled to be analysed by an Airbus working group chaired by chief executive Noel Forgeard on 7 June.

"We're looking at what could be a new 200-250-seater long-term," says Airbus. "We have an open mind and are looking at all possibilities."

Participants were presented six different design solutions from which to state a preference. Options comprised a new aircraft primarily driven by either operating economics or environmental considerations available around 2010, a transonic jet along the lines of the so called "E²" near sonic concept, a supersonic aircraft, the proposed A330-500 shrink and an improved version of the A300-600R (Flight International, 17-23 April).

Airbus has refocused attention on the 200-250-seat market in the wake of Boeing unveiling the sonic cruiser concept. The manufacturer had questioned the aircraft's economic and environmental feasibility. At best it regards a transonic jet as a niche application.

The consensus among the carriers surveyed is believed to support a clean sheet conventional aircraft emphasising low operating costs.

Source: Flight International