TOULOUSE: Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA) delivered its first A330neo jet to TAP Portugal on Monday as it seeks to trump U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N) in the fiercely competitive battle at the lower end of the market for long-haul jets.
The face-off between the A330neo and Boeing 787 pits two generations of jetliner against each other in one of the most crowded but potentially lucrative parts of the aircraft market, predicted to represent $1 trillion in sales over 20 years.
The A330neo offers fuel savings through new engines from Rolls-Royce (RR.L), though these have been delayed by industrial problems at the British supplier.
Airbus planemaking chief Guillaume Faury said he expected Airbus to catch up on delayed A330neo deliveries by end-2019.
Sales of the A330neo have also fallen short of expectations as Boeing places its 787, but Faury predicted these would pick up following the first delivery.
“The A330neo will in my view get more traction when it is in service,” he told reporters.
One of the earliest and largest customers for the A330neo, leasing firm Avolon which financed the first TAP aircraft, said Airbus still needed to win more orders.