Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier, says American carriers are now in a position to decide if they want to participate in growing their international market share following a highly successful period of restructuring their operations and becoming profitable.
He told a media briefing in Mobile, Alabama, where the new Airbus US Manufacturing Facility will open Monday morning, that this might encourage reconsideration of the merits of the A380 by some of the country’s flag carriers.
“People often say the US isn’t an A380 market”, he said, “but for those outside the US it is a major A380 market, with up to seven non-American carriers serving US cities with this jet every day.”
However when asked if Airbus was closer to making a decision on when it would proceed with a new engine tech or NEO A380, M Brégier said “No.”
There is considerable industry and airline talk that more certainty as to what Airbus will do to bring a new Rolls-Royce engine to an A380 flying other airframe upgrades and a stretch beyond it’s current capacity could occur at the Dubai air show early in November.
At the same show in 2013 Emirates ordered 100 more A380s and launched the Boeing 777-X series with an order for 150 of what will become the largest capacity Boeing twin-engined jet when it enters service in 2020. Emirates has said on many occasions that both types are crucial to its business model.
Emirates is also under siege in the court of US political opinion (together with the other Middle East majors, Etihad and Qatar Airways) by the US big three, American, Delta and United, over their claims it has benefited unfairly from sovereign owner subsidies, a claim fiercely contested by the so called ME3.
The US carriers, which fly very little capacity between American cities and the Middle East hubs, are demanding Washington renege on current traffic agreements and curb the activities of the ME3. However a significant part of the friction in the debate may be due to Etihad and Qatar Airways pursuing and profitably developing equity and influence in the ownership of EU carriers holding powerful North Atlantic traffic rights, including British Airways, Iberia, Alitalia and airBerlin.
While the action at Mobile has no direct linkage to the tensions between US carriers and large successful foreign airlines, it is without doubt a curtain raiser to heavy duty competition between Airbus and Boeing at this year’s Dubai Air Show.