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Airbus takes 'wait and see' response to Boeing's proposed NMA

Airbus's incoming chief executive feels no pressure to scramble in response to Boeing's concept for a New Mid-market Airplane (NMA).

Rather, Guillaume Faury describes Boeing's NMA – which remains little more than a proposal – as a potential response by the US manufacturer to a market already controlled by Airbus.

"They are in the situation where they are losing this part of the market because they no longer have the right products," says Faury of Boeing. "They believe they have to do something about it, and this is on them to make the next move."

Faury, who spoke in Mobile earlier this week, currently heads the Airbus commercial aircraft division but is in line to succeed Tom Enders as Airbus CEO in April.

Boeing has taken a very different public approach, with executives saying they see significant demand for an aircraft with 200 to 270 seats and range of about 5,000nm (9,300km).

"This airplane is a big opportunity for us," Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister said last year.

The US manufacturer has said it will decide this year whether to move forward with the NMA.

Boeing has long dominated that segment with its 757 and larger 767 – aircraft that, while still popular, are based on decades-old designs and are increasingly reaching retirement age.

Meanwhile, Airbus has made notable inroads by squeezing more range from its A321neo. The European company has developed a long-range A321LR and speculation abounds that an even longer-range derivative, known as the "A321XLR", might be in the works.

Faury declines any comment about the XLR, but insists Airbus's products already meet airlines' needs.

"We don't have this gap, so we don't feel under pressure to react even before Boeing has moved. We will wait and see and observe," he says.

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