Industry guru and Air Lease boss Steve Udvar-Hazy is helping steer Airbus’s evaluation of its re-engining “A330neo” project with the view to being a launch customer and sees demand for up to 1,200 aircraft.

“We’re providing input to Airbus and talking about possibly being a launch customer,” says Udvar-Hazy.

Airbus’s chief operating officer for customers John Leahy says that no decision has been taken about a go-ahead but “watch this space”. The re-engined variant would offer the same seating and cash-operating costs as the 787-9, but have “slightly” less range and “significantly lower capital costs”, he adds.

Udvar-Hazy says ALC forecasts a market for between 1,100 and 1,200 A330neos over the next 20 years, and that the aircraft would replace today’s A330s and A340s at lower trip costs. “We’ve done some very extensive market research and we see maybe 60-70 aircraft a year at the beginning and then at the backend of the 20-year period it probably starts tapering down,” he says.

Leahy indicates that Airbus concurs with ALC's forecast, putting A330neo long-term demand at at least 1,000 units.

Although the programme is still at the study stage, Udvar-Hazy says that if Airbus decides to launch, it could be available from 2018: “That’s probably what the market is signalling.”

He adds that ALC’s preference is for a choice of engine suppliers: “We don’t particularly care for [a single-source] engine solution. The A330 currently has a choice of three engines – GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce. Our preference would be two, because it would create a larger market as a lot of airlines already have a Rolls-Royce or GE infrastructure.”

However Udvar-Hazy hints that Airbus is still evaluating whether to opt for a sole-source engine deal, saying there are “different forces at work”.

Source: Cirium Dashboard