Airbus is in talks with several potential customers for a new A350 freighter while seeing signs of demand for smaller A320 passenger jets in Europe, its sales chief said on Tuesday. With e-commerce booming, Airbus formally began marketing a proposed freight variant of its A350 passenger jet in July, taking aim at Boeing’s tight grip on the global cargo market. “We are in a number of very encouraging discussions,” Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told reporters in Toulouse, where the European planemaker is based.
Ryanair on Tuesday warned that Boeing risked forgoing the main driver of growth in Europe, low-cost airlines, to rival Airbus unless it reversed a recent price increase. Ryanair Group Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said that "Europe's low cost carriers will drive demand for Airbus A320 family aircraft and not Boeing" unless it cuts its prices and does a deal with Ryanair.
Planemaker Boeing said that European low-cost carriers would help drive demand for new aircraft in the region over the next 20 years, as airlines replace their ageing fleets with more fuel-efficient jets. Boeing said on Tuesday that it expects airlines in Europe to order 7,100 new single-aisle planes, usually used for short haul trips, between now and 2040, with low-cost specialists like Ryanair behind that demand. In fact, Europe's demand for planes will be even more strongly driven by low-cost carriers than elsewhere in the world, said Boeing vice president, commercial marketing Darren Hulst.