Airbus chief says A380 to adapt to 777X, attacks U.S. tax breaks
BERLIN May 19 (Reuters) - Airbus will keep evolving the design of its A380 superjumbo in response to Boeing's latest jet, the 777X, whose recent launch was bolstered by "unacceptable" Washington state subsidies, the head of the European planemaker said on Monday.
Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of the planemaking unit of Airbus Group, hit out at $8.7 billion of tax breaks on the eve of the Berlin Airshow, amid renewed transatlantic tensions over mutual charges of unfair aid.
Boeing denies the tax breaks are unfair and says Airbus continues to receive banned European support.
Airbus said the 777x presented a challenge to its superjumbo. "We will face after 2020 the challenge of the Boeing 777X. It is clear that as the challenges evolve, the A380 will have to evolve as well," Bregier told reporters, without elaborating.
Bregier said he had grown more optimistic about a possible revamp of the A330 wide-body jet due to strong demand from airlines, but insisted no decision had been taken.
Airbus has said it plans to decide later this year whether to upgrade the wide-body jet with new engines to provide fuel savings and better compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
"I am probably more optimistic than I was in January because in January I discarded the idea, but I can't tell you whether we will launch it or not," Bregier said.
Bregier urged European monetary authorities to do more to protect exporters penalized by a strong euro.
"We can sustain an exchange rate of $1.35 - above it is different - but I believe that an acceptable exchange rate for European exporters is $1.25," Bregier said. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Victoria Bryan)
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