Boeing expects customers to look at Airbus neo

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Boeing Co believes some of its 737 customers may consider buying the re-engined Airbus 320 while Boeing decides whether to re-engine or redesign its plane, the head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters at the Paris Air Show, Jim Albaugh said Boeing will not react to that kind of pressure and that it intends to make a plane that satisfies market needs for decades.

He said he would expect 737 customers to look at the A320neo as they prepare to order more narrowbodies.
“I’ve got a certain kind of car that I like to drive. When I buy a new one, I’m going to drive some others to make sure that I have the right car. So it’s no surprise to me that we have good customers that are talking to people about the neo,” Albaugh said.

Boeing is preparing to offer an upgraded version of its 737 that will either feature new engines or be fully redesigned. Re-engining would bring the plane to market faster, but a redesigned plane would save more fuel. Boeing favors making a new plane if that approach is feasible.

EADS unit Airbus already has said it would re-engine its A320. That plane will be called the A320neo.

Albaugh said he did not know where a new 737 would be built. Boeing’s unionized workers in Washington state want Boeing to assemble a new 737 there. The company has come under fire recently for opening a non-union assembly plant for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina.



Speaking later in the day, Boeing vice president of product strategy Nicole Piasecki said the company has not ruled out building the current version of the 737 at the same time as an upgraded plane.
“We foresee producing the 737 Next Gen beyond 2025,” Piasecki said.
“We will continue to keep that family competitive because we think it plays a very important role in the marketplace and for our customers. It will take them a long time to transition their fleets.”