PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) - Airbus on Tuesday sought to dampen speculation about an upgrade to its best-selling A321neo single-aisle model, saying “there is no such thing” as a proposal to build what some media have dubbed an A322 with more seats and newer wings.
Industry sources have said Airbus has kept in reserve studies based on carbon wings and updated engines if needed to counter any new plane that rival Boeing might launch in the top end of the medium-haul market, where Airbus has a strong lead.
Airbus executives on Monday said they were happy with the current wings and engines on the existing portfolio.
They confirmed that Airbus is examining a possible freighter version of its A350 wide-body jet, but said the company would only launch such a development when the conditions were right.
Traditionally dominated by Boeing, the freighter business is underserved by Airbus, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said.
A stretched version of the smaller 110-130-seat A220 is technically possible but not before the Canadian-designed jetliner programme reaches “cruising altitude,” he added. Demand for the jet is strong including interest from China, he said.
He was speaking during an Airbus product presentation.
Airbus is seeing some pricing pressure in the jet market in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis but is putting emphasis on protecting value rather than chasing prices, Scherer added.
It has fewer than five “white tails” that have been built but left stranded without a buyer, while most aircraft parked outside its factories are being stored on behalf of customers, he said.
Airbus also hit back at concerns raised by Boeing over the design of its newest narrow-body jet, the A321XLR.
In a recent European regulatory filing, Boeing said a novel type of fuel tank could pose fire risks.
Scherer called the comment “slightly provocative and outdated”. Boeing had no immediate comment. (Reporting by Laurence Frost, Tim Hepher. Editing by Jane Merriman)