Boeing withdrew from the race to build a superjumbo after airlines rejected its proposal for larger versions of the 747 in favour of Airbus’s new A3XX according to John Leahy, Airbus senior vice-president.
`Nineteen airlines are working in detail with us on the A3XX,’ Leahy said at a briefing on Airbus’s global market forecast. `They told Boeing at Farnborough that they did not want to go into the 21st century with a 1960s design. They need an all-new design.’
Boeing sees no market for an airliner bigger than the 747. But, over 20 years, Airbus predicts a market for 1,440 aircraft with 400-plus seats. It expects to supply 650 of those planes.
Leahy said the A3XX’s fuselage will accommodate two wide body decks on top of one another. Freight and combi versions would be produced. In Boeing’s proposal the most it could achieve in the 747 fuselage was a narrow body upper deck over a wide lower deck.
Airbus wants airlines to underwrite 40% of the estimated $8bn development costs. It claims to have partners lined up to cover 25% of this figure. Under a Europe-US treaty, 33% of the costs of Airbus’s four aerospace partners can be underwritten by government loans.
Some industry analysts believe Boeing is still secretly working on a superjumbo.