Airbus confident can sell more than 1,000 A321XLRs over 10 years

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Airbus SE AIR.PA is confident of selling more than 1,000 A321XLR aircraft, a longer-range version of the single-aisle A321neo jetliner, over the next 10 years, a senior executive at the manufacturer said on Tuesday.

The forecast includes a mix of new orders and conversions from other models, Airbus Head of Marketing Francois Caudron told reporters at the Singapore Airshow.

Airbus, which launched the A321XLR last year, has already sold more than 450, including to Asian clients such as Malaysia's AirAsia Group Bhd AIRA.KL and Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than 1,000 A321XLRs that are sold....I would say safely in the next 10 years,” Caudron said.

Airbus this month agreed to pay a record $4 billion in fines after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors in Britain, France and United States over alleged bribery and corruption stretching back at least 15 years.

Asked how Airbus would rebuild its reputation in the region, Caudron said the manufacturer was committed to its customers and pledged to conduct business with “full integrity”.

Caudron said customers in the region were being hit hard by the downturn in traffic due to the coronavirus epidemic, but he declined to comment if any had requested to defer deliveries.

“Coronavirus is a crisis,” he said. “I would just remind ourselves we are in a very resilient industry.”

Caudron said airlines were not panicking and were looking beyond the short term in terms of orders.

“When you order an aircraft it is not for the next six months,” he said. “It is for the next 20 years.”

Airbus last week extended a planned closure of its A320 family final assembly plant in Tianjin, China, as a result of the coronavirus emergency.

Caudron said Airbus was watching the situation evolve on a daily basis and he could not yet provide a timeline for a reopening.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Merriman