Airbus sales chief claims big win on ILFC deal

MUNICH (Germany), March 8 Wed Mar 9, 2011 12:22am IST

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MUNICH (Germany), March 8 (Reuters) - Airbus sales chief John Leahy claimed a groundswell of airline industry support for an enhanced model of the A320 after a major U.S. order on Tuesday.

After bagging the tentative order for 100 A320neo aircraft from leasing giant ILFC (AIG.N), Leahy said Airbus was in talks to sell more of the planes to U.S. airline Republic Airways.

Speaking in a telephone interview he declined to give further details.

The A320neo is "not just up and running but it is taking the world by storm," Leahy said.

He dismissed talk by rival Boeing (BA.N) of a possible radical redesign for its competing 737, which he said had not slowed demand for the Airbus model.

"World airlines are taking the neo seriously and they're not taking Boeing seriously at all," he said.

ILFC announced the 100 plane provisional order worth $9.5 billion earlier and said it had cancelled an order for 10 A380 super jumbos worth more than $3 billion.

Leahy denied that the A380 cancellation dealt a serious blow to the world's largest airliner because the ILFC had not allocated the aircraft to its own customers.

"It hasn't placed them, so it doesn't change underlying demand," he said.

He express disappointment that Air China (601111.SS) had announced it would buy 5 Boeing 747-8 aircraft earlier on Tuesday.

"We are disappointed with Air China's decision, we had hoped they would have taken a closer look at the A380", he said, adding that the airline appeared to have under political pressure from Washington."

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