The downturn in the aviation industry has set long-term growth back by about one and a half years, says Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy.

But the industry will resume its long-term trend of growing by about 5% a year, he adds.

Leahy also believes production of the Boeing 747 will end within a couple of years in the face of competition from the Airbus A380, and he questions the economy claims made by Boeing for its new 7E7 Dreamliner.

"I believe that this industry has a cycle and the fact is that in the early 1990s we saw the bottom of the cycle and it is the same 10 years on. It was the same in the early '80s," says Leahy.

"There does seem to be a 10-year cycle that moves through the industry. Our belief is that the crisis will shift long-term demand (back) by about 1.5 years."

Airbus is celebrating the fact that in 2003 it not only won more orders than Boeing, it delivered more aircraft than its US competitor - 305 against 281.


Leahy says that 2004 will see the same pattern. "It will be the second year in a row where we out-deliver them."

The Airbus 20-year forecast for new aircraft deliveries predicts a total of 16,463 aircraft through to 2024, with a total price tag of $1.5 trillion. That breaks down into 10,184 aircraft in the single aisle category; 1,782 in the small twin aisle category; 2,962 in the intermediate twin aisle category and 1,535 in the very large category.

That market will be shared with Boeing, he says. In an apparent reference to the fact that Bombardier is exploring the possibility of moving up to an aircraft with 140-seat capacity, he adds: "We don't see any serious competitor to either Airbus or Boeing in that 20-year period."

In the single aisle category, the A320 family captured 52% of the market in 2003 and up to May 2004 held some 64% of new orders.

Leahy says there is a clear trend with the single aisle market moving to the A320: in the last two years, 44 airlines had either replaced or "upgraded" their Boeing 737 fleets with A320s.


"In 2002/3, over 80% of orders with Airbus were from low-cost carriers," he says. "We are now dominating the low cost market. Five years ago it was a (Boeing) 737 market but now it is an A320 market."

Leahy dismisses the recently-launched Boeing 7E7 as "Boeing re-inventing the A330-200". He says that, apart from the engines, the aircraft "looks very similar" to the Airbus A330. He dismissed Boeing's claims on the efficiency of the 7E7.

The Boeing 7E7 was launched with a first order for 50 copies from Japan's All Nippon Airways in April this year.

 Leahy says "All Nippon did not ask for data on the A330-200 and did not ask us to quote. They just stated 7E7. They did not compare it to the A330: it was not a competition."

At the large end of the aircraft range, Leahy says he expects the end of Boeing 747 production as the Airbus A380 ultra-large aircraft comes into service.

"By 2006, as we enter service (with the A380), the 747, at least in the passenger form, will be out of production," he says.

"The 747 was the aircraft flagship of the 20th century but we are not in the 21st century and the A380 clearly is the flagship for this century."



Source: Flight Daily News