Airbus sales chief John Leahy would like Airbus to decide “sooner rather than later” whether to go ahead with its proposed A350-1000 stretch, dubbed the “-2000”, to start securing orders in what could be a relatively small market.

Speaking to Flightglobal at the IATA AGM in Dublin, Leahy, who is chief operating officer for customers, said that if Airbus does go ahead with the proposed 400-seat variant, which it refers to as the "A350-2000”, then it’s important to be in the market competing for orders as soon as possible.

While ultimately the decision to launch is “up to our board of directors”, Leahy says he’d “always like to see a launch sooner rather than later”.

“Whether it’s this year or beginning of next year it wouldn’t affect me one way or the other,” he says. “But we have to be careful – sooner rather than later – because if we decide to move into that market you don’t want to wait too long, especially if the market isn’t the world’s largest – which it isn’t.”

Leahy says that the current 350-seat -1000 is “clearly the sweet spot in the market. Even if we were to do the -2000, the majority of the sales are going to be for the -1000.”

As it examines the market for a stretched A350-1000 and works to define its size, Airbus is showing potential customers “a very good product on paper”, says Leahy. But he declines to be specific on the aircraft’s likely configuration, such as the whether it would retain the A350-900/1000’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines: “I don’t want to get into negotiations with the engine manufacturers in the press,” he says.

Source: Cirium Dashboard