A week after his chief salesman predicted an A380neo could enter service by 2022, Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier has said seven years is “too early”.
During an appearance at a Wings Club luncheon on 19 November, Bregier was asked about a comment on 11 November by Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy, who predicted an A380neo service debut was “inevitable” by “2022 or 2023”.
Bregier agrees that he thinks an enhanced version of the A380 will enter the market eventually, but perhaps not quite as soon as Leahy predicts.
“The 2022 date you mentioned for me is too early,” Bregier says.
Emirates Airline chief executive Tim Clark has called on Airbus to re-engine and stretch the A380, hoping to keep the seat-mile costs of the double-decker competitive with smaller aircraft with more advanced engines, such as the A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9.
Airbus still has not launched a re-engining programme for the A380, as it already has for the A320 and A330.
Bregier also doesn’t commit to re-engining or stretching the A380. He calls the project an “upgrade of the A380”, which could include a new engine or “even a stretch version”.
The company still needs a business case before it launches such a programme, Bregier says. But he accepts Leahy’s conclusion that an improved A380 is coming to the market.
“It is very important that our biggest customer tells us: ‘You need to upgrade your A380,” Bregier says, referring to Emirates’ Clark.
At the end of October, the A380 backlog stood at 144 aircraft, with over half assigned to Emirates.
The type has been slow to find broad success among airlines. In Bregier’s opinion, the aircraft is more popular with customers, but just not Airbus’ direct customers.
“People love the A380 as passengers, but airlines don’t love the A380,” he says. “Our problem is to justify that such a big aircraft has a market.”