* Airbus announces revamp of A330 passenger jet
* CEO sees up to 100 orders for new plane at Farnborough
* Boeing wins $3.1 billion Monarch order
* No F-35 on first day of air show, still hopes it will
(Adds quotes, details, background)
By Sarah Young and Jack Stubbs
FARNBOROUGH, England, July 14 Airbus
announced a revamp of its twin-aisle A330 passenger jet on
Monday, offering a cheaper alternative to the Boeing 787
Dreamliner as the two planemakers vie for up to $250 billion in
orders from cost-conscious airlines.
The European planemaker launched the A330neo to open
Britain's July 14-20 Farnborough Airshow with a deal for 25
planes from leasing company Air Lease Corp.
Airbus boss Fabrice Bregier predicted up to 100 purchase
commitments this week for the model, which features new, more
fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines.
Airbus is aiming to prolong the success of its A330 planes
amid a challenge from Boeing's all-new carbon-fibre 787
The A330neo is also aimed at addressing poor sales of its
own new A350-800, the smallest of the next-generation A350
family and a model which looks set to be halted or suspended as
Air Lease Corp, which encouraged Airbus to upgrade the A330,
said the new plane offered improved efficiency at a good price,
and predicted it would extend the model's life by 20-25 years.
"There is a compelling price difference between the A330neo
and any other wide body (plane). I think it was a very smart,
astute move on the part of Airbus," Air Lease President and
Chief Operating Officer John Plueger said.
Industry sources said the A330neo was likely to undercut the
Boeing's 787 by about 25 percent based on the price of actual
deals rather than list prices.
However, Boeing defended the value offered by the 787.
"I don't really care what is said, this is really the most
efficient airplane family around," Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Chief Executive Ray Conner said of the 787.
RECORD ORDER BOOKS
Airbus and Boeing slug it out for the lion's share of the
$100 billion a year global commercial jet market.
Their record order books, swelled by demand from
fast-growing Middle Eastern and Asian airlines as well as
low-cost carriers, have raised questions over their ability to
deliver as well as concerns about over-capacity.
The 250-300 seat market is the largest segment of the
wide-body jet market by volume and represents 4,520 aircraft
worth more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years, according to
Boeing's latest market forecast, published last week.
Airbus believes the new A330-800neo and A330-900neo models
can achieve at least 1,000 of those orders, but Boeing says the
market opportunity is closer to 400 planes and even then, only
for a short period.
Still, the cheaper A330neo is expected to spark increased
"The A330neo could potentially offer the right mix of
fuel-burn reduction and lower acquisition cost ... Less clear is
whether the economics and timing will be sufficient to sway
customers from the 787 this time," said Rob Morris, head of
consultancy at Flightglobal Ascend, in a report being published
at the air show.
The A330neo will have a range increase of up to 400 nautical
miles, with room for up to 10 extra seats in the cabin, Airbus
said. It will also have aerodynamic improvements such as new
wing tips and an increased wingspan.
Deliveries will start in the fourth quarter of 2017. Airbus
said it would incur development costs for the A330neo from 2015
to 2017, with an impact of around 70 basis points on the group's
2015 return-on-sales target.
The European group is aiming to replicate the success of its
smaller revamped A320neo.
However, Boeing begins the air show with a clear advantage
over its rival after gaining 703 gross orders up to July 8, or
649 after cancellations, against Airbus's end-June total of 515
gross orders and 290 net.
Boeing on Monday scored a coup of its own, announcing an
order for 30 of its 737 MAX 8 planes from Britain's Monarch
Airlines, a carrier which had previously bought planes from
Airbus. The deal was worth $3.1 billion at list prices.
F-35 NO SHOW
Notable by its absence at the world's biggest aerospace
industry gathering on Monday was Lockheed-Martin's Joint
The warplane is grounded following an engine fire last month
although Lockheed hopes it will still make its international
debut at this week's air show.
"We're not giving up yet. We still have a few more days left
to try to get the airplane over here," Air Force Lieutenant
General Chris Bogdan, the Pentagon's F-35 program chief, told
reporters at the event on Monday.
Two initial partners in the Joint Strike Fighter programme -
Canada and Denmark - are weighing fresh orders.
(Additional reporting by Cyril Altmeyer, Victoria Bryan, Tim
Hepher, Andrea Shalal and James Regan; Writing by Tim Hepher and
Mark Potter; Editing by Jason Neely)