FRANKFURT/PARIS, July 8 The head of planemaker
Airbus has voiced growing support for plans to upgrade a popular
wide-body jet to sharpen its contest for plane sales with Boeing
, while urging European authorities to weaken the euro to
help exporters compete.
In a trio of European newspaper interviews published on
Tuesday, Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of the flagship
division of Airbus Group, said there were predictions
of strong demand for an enhanced version of the A330.
The possibility is "growing every day" that Airbus will go
ahead with the so-called "A330neo", though not necessarily at
next week's Farnborough Airshow, he told the Financial Times.
The newspaper quoted him as saying it might be possible to
sell more than 1,000 of the revamped aircraft.
Airbus has drawn up plans to revamp its biggest-selling
wide-body passenger jet to preserve a second front in its
competition with the delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner while
it prepares to introduce the A350.
It said over the weekend it had not decided whether it would
launch the A330neo at the July 14-20 air show.
Interviewed by France's Les Echos, Bregier said the
industry's largest showcase event fell "a bit early" to finalise
the project and that launching it there is "not an objective".
Industry sources have said the definition of the 250-300
seat jet is broadly complete, notably the selection of
Rolls-Royce as sole engine supplier for the aircraft,
which would offer new wingtips and fuel savings of 14-15
Bregier has been seen as cautious about the roughly $2
billion project as Airbus faces challenging increases in
production elsewhere, but has been progressively more
enthusiastic in public since the Berlin Airshow in May.
In a separate interview with German daily Handelsblatt,
Bregier repeated that Airbus would make an announcement by the
end of the year should it decide not to launch the A330neo.
Bregier also called on the European Central Bank to take
steps to devalue the common European currency to help exporters
who are being hit by a strong euro.
"It should do what the Japanese did last year and what the
Americans have been doing the whole time... It is not fate that
the euro shoots through the roof while the American and Japanese
use their currencies to support industry," he told Handelsblatt.
"I am not talking about a huge devaluation, I am talking
about 10 percent," Bregier said, adding that all European
exporters would be fine at an exchange rate of $1.20 to $1.25
while currently the rate is about $1.36.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan, Tim Hepher; editing by Jason