Sorry for long story but this just caught my eyes on Reuters.
* 03-Mar-2016 17:13:00 - AIRBUS PLANS NEW
400-SEAT JETLINER, PROVISIONALLY DUBBED THE A350-8000; SEEKS AIRLINE SUPPORT -SOURCES
EXCLUSIVE-Airbus touts 400-seat 'A350-8000' jetliner - Reuters News
By Tim Hepher
PHOENIX, March 3 (Reuters) - Airbus is seeking
airline support for a new 400-seat jetliner provisionally dubbed
the A350-8000 as competition escalates with Boeing over
the world's largest two-engined jets, airline and aviation
industry sources said.
After talking up the possibility of a new member of its A350
family, the European planemaker has swung into an active
pre-marketing phase as it responds to a recent upgrade in the
competing Boeing 777 series.
While Boeing has scored successes in the Gulf with its
biggest ever twin-engined jet, the 406-seat 777-9, Airbus is
expected to aim its design at airlines that do not always
require the performance needed for extreme Gulf conditions.
"It would have similar capacity and range (as the 777-9) and
substantially lower seat-mile costs," Airbus sales chief John
Leahy said in an interview. "We are showing it to airlines right
The project is the latest move in a game of leapfrog played
by Airbus and Boeing over the past decade in the market for big
twinjets, valued at about $1.9 trillion over 20 years.
It marks a shift in priorities after the collapse in oil
prices eased pressure on Airbus to upgrade its larger
four-engined A380, output of which is declining because of slow
Two of the airlines whose feedback could be decisive in
whether Airbus launches the new jet are Singapore Airlines
and British Airways .
Singapore took delivery of its first smaller A350-900 model
this week and has long been weighing up the 777-9, while putting
pressure on Airbus to offer it a choice.
Both airlines declined to comment.
Airbus planemaking president Fabrice Bregier was visiting
Singapore on Thursday for a delivery ceremony, at which a
company spokesman declined to comment.
The A350 XWB (Extra Wide Body) family was launched after a
string of setbacks in 2006 to compete with Boeing's mid-sized
787 Dreamliner and the larger 777. [nL6N0U50HH]
Boeing responded to the all-new jet by upgrading its
existing 777 series to include the 777-9, which has outsold the
A350-1000 by about 40 percent but has entered a lean period
since its launch with big Gulf orders in 2014.
Boeing has disclosed 306 sales of 777-9s and a similar
variant, while Airbus has sold 181 of its A350-1000s.
"It is clearly an airplane that is on its own in the
marketplace and the airplane is selling very well," Boeing
marketing chief Randy Tinseth told the Istat Americas air
finance conference, referring to the latest 777 model.
The new, bigger A350 would use a derivative of the latest
Rolls-Royce Trent XWB planned for the A350-1000. One
person briefed on the plans said it would boost thrust from the
current 97,000 pounds to about 100,000 pounds.
A Rolls-Royce representative was not immediately available
To give it more capacity and compete with the 777-9 on long
trips, engineers are likely to examine design tweaks to boost
the maximum take-off weight to a little more than 319 tonnes,
compared with 308 tonnes on the Airbus A350-1000, the person
However it would sacrifice some range compared with the
Airbus says it has not made a final decision on whether to
launch the longer new plane and will provide an update at the
Farnborough Airshow in July. [nL8N1685XU]
Meanwhile, it has been weighing up what to call the new
member off the A350 XWB family, reflecting deeper decisions on
market positioning that can affect billions of dollars in sales.
It needs to strike a balance between protecting sales of the
A350-1000, by emphasising differences without weakening its
long-held mantra of commonality between related aircraft.
Until now, the possible new model was widely known in the
industry as the A350-1100, continuing a sequence from the
276-seat A350-800 to the 315-seat A350-900 and 366-seat
Now, sources say it is being pre-marketed with a surprise
new identity, the A350-8000, though a final decision has yet to
be taken. An earlier working title was A350-1000 XL.
Leahy confirmed that Airbus was reluctant to ratify the
industry's nickname of A350-1100 but declined to give details.
"You don't want it so close to the 1000 that it is an
either-or decision. You have the 1000 and another airplane, with
equal gaps of 40 seats between the 900 and 1000 (models), and
then whatever this becomes."
Eight is a number widely used by planemakers and is seen as
a symbol of success in a key battleground for sales: Asia.
"Eight is a very nice number out in Asia, but we are not
going to comment until we launch the programme," Leahy said.