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Boeing says well-placed to compete as Airbus heats up long-haul battle.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner said he was "looking forward" to the heightened contest when asked about Airbus's revamp plan.

US planemaker boeing said its range of aircraft meant it is well-placed to compete in the latest stage of a long-haul battle against European rival Airbus, which earlier stole the limelight with a plan to revamp its A330 jet.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner said he was "looking forward" to the heightened contest when asked about Airbus's revamp plan.

"We are very comfortable with our product line in terms of efficiency and in terms of value we bring to the market place," Conner said at a Press conference. "I feel comfortable that we have the right machine in every single market segment."

"I congratulate them on making that decision, on moving away from the A350-800 which is, what, they essentially, I guess are doing, and going back to the kind of re-engine scenario that they had in 2004, but there's no way their plane is much better than ours," Conner said.

Both Boeing and Airbus have clashed over the weight and efficiency of their jets in the 250- to 300-seat segment of the jetliner market.

Conner championed the efficiency of Boeing's 787 family of aircraft, saying that higher performance meant the contest was not just about purchase price, as he defended Boeing's offering against the cheaper A330neo.

"I don't really care what is said, this is really the most efficient airplane family around," he said of the 787 group of aircraft.

Conner also said that the company expected demand for cargo aircraft to pick up as he gave an upbeat assessment of future demand for planes. Boeing, Conner added, is in talks with Dubai's Emirates airline regarding its 747-8 aircraft.

"We're still in discussions with Emirates today. That's going to go on for a while I'm sure so I can't say that we're close, I can't say that we're far away. We're still working at it," he said.

Emirates said in June it was not interested in the 467-seat 747-8, despite a report of talks between Boeing and the airline.

Meanwhile. Boeing is working on a high- capacity modification of its 737 narrow-body model aimed at discount airlines seeking to pack in as many travelers as possible on short-haul flights. The aircraft will seat as many as 200 in a single cabin and is based on the re-engined 737 Max 8 set to debut in 2017, Conner said on Sunday.

Boeing and Airbus Group are vying to squeeze more people into single-aisle jets as clients including Ryanair Holdings, Europe's No. 1 discount carrier, seek lower unit costs. Airbus previously said it planned to boost the number of seats on its A320neo by nine to 189, the same number that Ryanair has in its fleet of 737-800s, which the Max 8 succeeds.

"When you're in the low-cost, low-fare business, you're always striving for that competitive advantage," John Wojick, Boeing's chief aircraft salesman, said in an interview.

The modified 737 model will be targeted at ultra-low-cost carriers seeking high-density seating configurations to pack in passengers on shorter flights were demand exceeds capacity, Wojick said.

Boeing will accommodate the higher load by squeezing passengers in tighter, with the space between seats decreasing by two inches, while also adding an extra exit door behind the aircraft's wing, Conner said.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 15, 2014
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