January 22, 2018 / 1:03 PM / a month ago

Air Lease CEO says momentum building for new Boeing mid-sized jet

DUBLIN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Plans for a potential new Boeing mid-sized jet are gaining momentum and Airbus looks set to respond by beefing up its strong-selling A321neo model, Air Lease Corp Chief Executive John Plueger said on Monday.

“I think they (Boeing) feel they have momentum from the customers and that they are building momentum internally for the business case,” Plueger told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual Airline Economics conference, referring to a project for a 220-260-seat jet known as New Mid-Sized Airplane (‘NMA’).

“I think that they ... are feeling better about the NMA, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some time this year we saw a decision about a launch or not a launch,” he said.

Airbus is developing a new version of its 185-seat A321neo capable of lifting more weight, he said. Extra carrying capacity typically allows airlines to carry more payload or fly further.

Plueger said Airbus appeared for the time being to favour increasing the maximum takeoff weight of the A321neo over more radical developments such as investing in a new carbon wing.

Neither Boeing nor Airbus could be immediately reached for comment. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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