Airbus sales chief John Leahy says he is not concerned about Boeing's proposal to stretch the 737 MAX further and use the CFM International Leap-1A engines.

"They will try to get close to a 'me-too' aircraft, but not quite get there," Leahy said at the Airbus Innovation Days in Hamburg. "Boeing has not named the aircraft yet, but we have: We call it the Mad MAX."

Boeing is looking at an even longer version of the 737 MAX and using the Leap-1A engine, which has a much larger fan than the -1B powerplant currently used for the MAX family. Installing the larger engine likely would be a major challenge, though. The Airbus A321neo has far outsold the 737-9 and Leahy thinks the advantage is due to Airbus being able to introduce more changes in the A320neo than Boeing could implement on the MAX.

According to Airbus, the A320neo family has a market share of 59%. He believes the market split will stay at around 60/40 in Airbus's favor. The A321neo has a market share of 79%, Airbus claims, far outselling the 737-9.

Airbus has no plans to stretch the A321, Leahy said. In his view, 240-250 seats is the upper limit for a narrowbody aircraft because of the need to stay within reasonable turnaround times on the ground.

Boeing scored a major victory over Airbus with a recent Vietjet order for 100 737 MAX jets. Leahy conceded he was "disappointed" by the decision but downplayed the case. Vietjet, he said, has made clear to Airbus that it will not replace its Airbus fleet with the Boeing aircraft. The carrier also has the right to lease out the MAX aircraft should it chose not to operate them.  

Leahy also claimed that Bombardier is losing around $7 million on each aircraft in the recent Delta Air Lines order for up to 125 C Series. That leads him to believe that "they don't have a business case" for its "cute little airplane."

Unlike Boeing, which recently acquired a stake in aircraft lessor BOC Aviation, Airbus has no such plans. "I don't see a reason to buy a lessor," Leahy said. "I am surprised Boeing did it. If I was one of the other lessors I would have more than a word or two with them." Leahy argued that it is difficult for an aircraft manufacturer to pick winners and losers in the lessor community. Also, he pointed at instances where Boeing Capital Corp. competes with lessors in sales campaigns.

On the widebody side, Airbus is still looking at stretching the A350 further, but has not yet made a decision. Leahy remains unconvinced that the market has shifted from the 777-300ER category, in which the A350-1000 sits, to a larger aircraft such as the 777-9X or an even bigger A350. But Kieran Rao, executive vice president of strategy and marketing, stressed that Airbus would find it relatively easy to stretch the aircraft further, should demand be sufficient.

Rao also said that Airbus will eventually stretch and re-engine the A380, since the aircraft "will be around for the next 30-40 years." But he cautioned that there is no timeline defined for such changes. Leahy agreed that there was "nothing imminent."