Airbus continues to play down the idea of a re-engined Airbus A330, but admits that there is some pressure building on the airline side. “Customers are coming to us” to talk about the possibility, says Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier. Air Asia X founder Tony Fernandez has been the most vocal supporter of such a project, although the airline just placed an order for 25 of the current A330-300s.
“Re-engining is always an option for an aircraft,” says Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. However, he claims that even the current version is competitive with the Boeing 787. Leahy admits that fuel burn is 10-12% higher for the A330, but engine maintenance cost is 35% lower and capital costs are lower, too. “You just have to look at the catalogue prices,” Leahy adds.
Airbus also takes the position that the current A330 is still selling well and accumulated 77 firm orders in 2013, not counting 27 further commitments pending confirmation for Chinese airlines.
Combined with the current amount of engineering and development work needed for the A350-900 and -1000, the company does not seem anywhere near a decision. All three engine manufacturers are present on the A330 program, but Bregier says he is not aware of any concrete talks about a possible future engine option for the aircraft.