Airbus is taking advantage of its ability to offer early delivery slots to secure A330 deals as it transitions to the re-engined A330neo in 2017, but is not having to offer significant discounts to secure orders.
“With all the capabilities of today’s A330-300 at 242t (MTOW) and the economics it can give people, we’ve had many of our customers say there’s no more efficient more economic long-haul seat in the air today,” says Christopher Buckley, Airbus’s executive vice-president for Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific.
“We’ll continue to sell the value extremely hard and we see no immediate need to run in with big discounts.”
Buckley says that if airlines don’t require an aircraft with very-long-range capability, then the A330 is “the right product...and if people are wanting lift in 2017/18 then we certainly do have an advantage right now with availability, and we’ll make the most of that.”
The transition of A330 production from the current version to the A330neo will begin in 2017 when deliveries of the upgraded, Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered version will begin. However Buckley says Airbus will not immediately look to wind up production of the older variants.
“We still have quite a big market for today’s A330s as a tanker and hopefully we’ll sell a few more freighters too. So we see the two running in parallel for quite a while – 2020, 21 and beyond,” he says.
Buckley plays down the likelihood of a raft of big A330 deals being signed at next week’s Paris air show, saying “the bulk of interesting announcements will be in second half of the year – we don’t see airlines driven to absolutely have an announcement at Paris”.
Meanwhile Airbus is benefiting from the smooth introduction of the A350-900, which entered service with Qatar Airways in January and there are now three aircraft in operation.
“The entry into service has been great and word is spreading that it’s living up to its all promises and more in service,” Buckley says. “The biggest obstacle with the A350 right now is that we just don’t have them fast enough,” he adds, in reference to Airbus’s conservative policy on the production ramp-up.
However Airbus is working hard to secure additional business and Buckley says he’s “pretty confident that we’ll have at least two brand new A350 customers by the end of the year”.