Airbus Says Not So Fast
Updated 1/29. 5:20 EST (see below)
Reuters reports that an analyst for Morgan Stanley boldly predicted on Thursday that Airbus could receive 500-1,000 orders for its revamped A320, dubbed “NEO”, by June’s Farnborough Airshow.
Airbus responded quickly, noting that it was very enthusiastic about the potential for A320 NEO orders this year but was quick to reel Morgan Stanley’s prediction back to earth the article states.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy called the figure “overly optimistic” but reiterated he expected to sell “several hundred” of the proposed fuel-savingplanes over the same period.
The A320 NEO was launched last year as Airbus’ option for airlines looking for better fuel savings from its popular A320 family which also includes the smaller A319 and larger A321. The plane, which won’t enter service until 2016, will feature new engines (“NEO” standing for “New Engine Option”) and other improvements in fuel efficiency but will not be an entirely new plane as Airbus has elected to hold off on starting a new plane from scratch.
The narrow-body market has seen a lot of activity in the past few months with airlines clamoring for replacements for older Boeing 737s and Airbus As320s. Boeing has hinted that it will forego upgrading the 737 in favor of taking a little longer and launching a brand new aircraft altogether with a debut sometime around 2020. Some airlines have expressed skepticism over such a plan as it would not provide a new option from Boeing for nearly nine years. Airbus’ A320 NEO gives customers looking for narrow-body planes an option that will be available four years sooner but may lack the fuel efficient capabilities that a brand new plane could offer.
Virgin America announced last week that it would be the launch customer for the NEO when it included 30 orders for the new plane in its order of 60 planes overall (The remainder being form the traditional A320).
In the same memo which Morgan Stanley predicted 500-1,000 A320 NEO’s by June, the investment company also noted that we could have an announcement from Boeing regarding a new narrow-body plane by June’s Paris Air Show according to FlightGlobal
The report also notes that, despite Boeing’s insistence that airlines would be willing to wait until 2020 for a new model, the popularity of the A320 NEO could force the company to launch a replacement sooner.