(Adds lessor's demand forecast, background)
DOHA, June 1 U.S. leasing company Air Lease Corp
is interested in a possible upgraded version of European
planemaker Airbus Group's A330 passenger jet, a senior
company executive said on Sunday.
"Yes we are interested in that airplane," President and
Chief Operating Officer John Plueger told Reuters on the
sidelines of an IATA airline industry meeting in Doha.
Airbus has not decided whether to go ahead with the
re-engined version of its most popular wide-body model amid an
ongoing internal debate about whether to continue to offer it
with more than one choice of engine, industry sources have said.
Plueger and other industry executives said the price of the
aircraft would be a decisive factor in the success of the
"A330neo", as Airbus seeks to overcome the lower operating costs
of the newer Boeing 787-10 with lower up-front ownership costs.
The choice of engines could also determine the popularity of
the revamp, with airlines typically pushing for competition.
The decision on whether to offer one choice of engines, most
likely from Britain's Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC, or two,
which would also include General Electric Co, depends
chiefly on how many airplanes Airbus and its suppliers believe
they can sell.
Engine makers are unwilling to invest in a new or modified
engine unless they see enough volume to recoup investments of
several hundred million dollars for even simple upgrades.
Air Lease Corp Chairman and Chief Executive Steven
Udvar-Hazy told Reuters he saw a potential market for between
1,100 and 1,200 re-engined A330 aircraft, a figure that most
industry analysts say would support a choice of two engine
But in an interview on May 23, Airbus Chief Executive Tom
Enders gave a more cautious assessment, saying demand for the
plane could be counted in "hundreds."
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Praveen Menon and