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Airbus Eyes Lead in Single-Aisle Market With Improved A320 Jet

Airbus SAS, which has split the market for single-aisle planes with Boeing Co. over the last decade, aims to capture 60 percent of sales for future single-aisle planes with new engines, the sales chief said.

The European company has benefited from being first mover on more efficient engines for its single-aisle series, called the A320neo, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said today in Paris. That has given Toulouse, France-based Airbus a two-thirds share, and Leahy expects to keep about 60 percent over the longer term.

Airbus is seeking to appeal to a broader range of customers with its bestelling model, with production sites in Europe, China and one planned in Mobile, Alabama that aims to pull in more U.S. carriers. Airbus now only has a 20 percent share for single-aisle, or narrow-body planes in the U.S., the world’s biggest aircraft market.

“It’s not just psychological value,” Leahy said of the planned factory. For airline chiefs who choose Airbus over Boeing in future, “it helps them to say their plane just came from Mobile, Alabama,” he said in comments to the French American Foundation in Paris today.

Airbus has already scored in Boeing’s backyard. AMR Corp.’s American Airlines has broken with a practice to buy only Boeing planes and ordered A320neos. Boeing has responded with a more fuel-efficient engines on its 737s, the world’s most widely flown aircraft. Leahy said past sales campaigns in the U.S. often showed a preference to buy a local product.

“If this just wipes out that last phone call to Seattle,” where Boeing’s commercial aircraft business is based. “It accomplishes a lot.”

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