The Airbus consortium’s A3XX large airliner project stalled this week as an internal row reportedly broke out and US giant Boeing hinted it might go ahead with a rival aircraft.
Boeing chairman Phil Condit is believed to have sent letters to customers urging them to order an improved, stretched version of the Boeing 747-400, the 747X.
A Boeing spokeswoman would not confirm whether the letter had been sent, but said: `Anything Boeing does is in response to customer demand and is not a response to the A3XX.’
Meanwhile, German news-paper Handelsblatt reported that a 26 May meeting to decide on a development launch of the A3XX had been postponed indefinitely because of a row between Airbus Industrie chief executive Noel Forgeard and management at Aerospatiale Matra.
The report alleged that Aerospatiale Matra had objected to Forgeard’s recent announcement that two airlines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines, had committed themselves to buying the A3XX if the consortium went ahead with the airliner.
The French company was said to have complained that Forgeard had made public statements without having the authority to negotiate sales with either airline.
But an Aerospatiale Matra spokesman denied the report: `Nothing has called into question the A3XX project,’ he said.
Airbus said the postponement of the supervisory board meeting, was for practical reasons and not because of disagreement over Forgeard’s actions. It added that the timetable for the A3XX launch at the end of 2000 and its entry into service in 2005 was being maintained.
Britain recently pledged to provide finance for the A3XX if it is launched. BAE Systems is a 20% partner in the Airbus consortium and builds the wings for all Airbus airliners.
Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd and licensors