DUBAI, July 2 (Reuters) - Emirates, the first airline to order Airbus Industrie's A3XX superjumbo, has asked Boeing Co for details on the stretched version of its 747 jumbo jet, a Boeing official was quoted on Sunday as saying.
Paul Dubeck, sales director of Boeing's international sales, made his comments in an interview with al-Bayan newspaper of the United Arab Emirates.
"In fact, we received a request from Emirates to know some technical details of the jumbo jet," he said.
He said the request by the Dubai-government owned airline was made after it announced its interest in buying five A3XX aircraft from Airbus, with an option for five more. Delivery of the aircraft would begin in 2006 and 2007.
"Emirates is one of our best customers and we respect its decisions...It is up to Emirates to choose between the Airbus or the Boeing super jumbo...," Dubeck said.
Emirates had said it was considering replacing its Boeing 777-200s with a new version, but did not give details.
EMIRATES SAYS COMMITTED TO A3XX
Asked about Dubeck's comments, Emirates' Head of Corporate Communications Mike Simon told Reuters: "We are committed to the Airbus A3XX as we have already announced. With reference to Boeing's mega jets, we simply like to know what is going on in the industry."
Boeing said on Thursday it had briefed more than 30 airline customers on its outlines for the 747X, Boeing's proposal to counter Airbus's planned A3XX.
Emirates last month welcomed a decision by partners in Airbus to give the European consortium the go-ahead to offer its double-decker 555-seat aircraft to airlines.
The A3XX, scheduled to be formally launched by the end of the year once Airbus has signed firm contracts, is designed to end arch-rival Boeing's monopoly of the large aircraft market.
Boeing officials had said Boeing's plans for the stretched version of the 420-seat 747-400 had not been brought forward by Airbus's aggressive marketing of its A3XX. They said Boeing would launch its 500-seat 747X whenever the market demands and not merely to rival the A3XX.
Dubeck told al-Bayan the cost of developing the 747X "would be around $5 billion and we expect it to be ready for delivery in 2005, which is one year before the A3XX...."
"We have conducted a market study and found very weak demand for this kind of plane, but since Boeing aims to meet the demands of all its customers it took the decision to develop the 747X. We expect demand for this (plane) to be limited," he said.
Boeing and Airbus are at odds over the need for a superjumbo. Boeing sees demand for 360 planes with more than 400 seats in the next 20 years, while Airbus forecasts 1,200 such planes.