Exclusive: Airbus offers 'regional' A350 - sales chief

PARIS Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:23am EDT

Airbus sales chief John Leahy attends a final news conference at the 50th Paris Air Show, at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Airbus sales chief John Leahy attends a final news conference at the 50th Paris Air Show, at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

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PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus EAD.PA is offering airlines a shorter-range "regional" version of its A350-900 passenger jet, sales chief John Leahy told Reuters at the Paris Airshow on Thursday.

The previously undisclosed move emerged two days after Boeing (BA.N) launched a larger version of its 787 Dreamliner, designed for airlines willing to surrender part of the range of its newest jets to carry more people on dense, intra-Asian routes.

The "regional" version of Europe's newest passenger jet does not involve design changes to the A350, which first flew last week, but it will be offered with lower-thrust Rolls-Royce (RR.L) engines tuned for shorter routes than the baseline model.

"I have a regional version...On the A350-900 there is a regional version with de-rated thrust," Leahy told Reuters.

An Airbus spokeswoman said the regional A350 would "match the payload-range capability of the (Boeing) 787-10".

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by James Regan)

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