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Airbus launches long-range A321 jet, close to 200 orders expected

17 June 2019 - 54   - 0

PARIS, France (Reuters) - Airbus launched a long-range version of its A321neo jet at the Paris Airshow on Monday, aiming to carve out new routes for airlines with smaller planes and steal a march on rival Boeing’s plans for a possible new mid-market jet.

The European planemaker will announce close to 200 orders for the new model - the A321XLR - over the week, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

“We can fly from north-eastern Asia into south Asia, from the Middle East to Bali or from Japan deep into Australia, and so on,” said Airbus chief salesman Christian Scherer.

“It is therefore the lowest-risk investment for airlines on these kinds of routes.”

Leasing company Air Lease Corp on Monday announced a deal for 100 Airbus planes, including 27 of the A321XLR jets, and sources familiar with the matter said Airbus was also close to announcing a deal with JetBlue Airways Corp.

The aerospace industry’s biggest annual event, which alternates with Britain’s Farnborough Airshow, is traditionally a slugging match between Airbus and Boeing sales teams in the $150 billion a year commercial aircraft market.

But analysts expect this year’s show to be relatively subdued, with slowing economies, trade tensions and geopolitical uncertainty unsettling airlines, highlighted by a profit warning from Germany’s Lufthansa late on Sunday.

Airbus and Boeing are also grappling with their own problems. The U.S. planemaker is striving to bring its top-selling 737 MAX jet back into service after its grounding following two fatal crashes. Airbus, meanwhile, is occupied with a long-running corruption scandal.

Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg on Sunday said he expected to announce orders for wide-body jets at the show but his main focus at the event was safety.

Analysts expect anything from 400 to 800 commercial aircraft orders and commitments at the gathering, compared with 959 at Farnborough last year, though it can be hard to identify truly new business against firmed-up commitments and switched models.

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