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Airbus softens target date for re-engined A320

Airbus has tempered its previously-declared July timeline for a decision on re-engining the A320 family, opting for a more tentative attitude on the future of the European airframer's narrowbody offering.

Speaking at an event at its Broughton plant in the UK, Airbus executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams softened its previous intention to aim for a decision by July's Farnborough Air Show. "We'll launch it when we're ready," he says.

Both Williams and Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy say that the business case for a 'new engine option' (NEO) on the A320 family remains in flux.

Williams says that Bombardier's 110- to 149-seat CSeries presents a "threat" to the smaller end of the market, as the European airframer seeks to nullify the business case for the CSeries with a new engine on the A320.

Leahy says that the launch of the A320 NEO, with its timing aimed towards the middle of this decade, would not rely on a large launch order with attached incentives.

Should Airbus go ahead with the NEO programme, Leahy forecasts that rival Boeing will initiate discussions about a clean-sheet replacement for its 737, but will ultimately launch a re-engined 737 in 2011.

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