DOHA -- Airbus is nearing a decision about the launch of its A330neo, according to Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy. 

"We are studying it very carefully. Watch this space,” Leahy said on the eve of the International Air Transport Association’s annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Airbus is looking at an aircraft that will be the same size as the Boeing 787-9, with somewhat less range and similar cash operating costs and fuel burn, according to Leahy. Airbus claims the aircraft, if launched, would be “unbeatable” because of its “substantially lower capital costs,” compared with the 787.

Boeing claims there will be “no price” at which an A330neo could compete with a 787-10.

Because of strong customer feedback in recent months, Airbus has been warming up to the idea of reengining the A330. CEO Fabrice Bregier said at the recent Berlin Air Show that he was “more optimistic about the project now than in January," but that he wanted “solid trade studies.” Airbus still has an orderbook of 260 A330s, and 2014 as well as 2015 production is sold out. There are many open slots in 2016 yet to be filled, although industry observers say 2017 would likely be the earliest entry-into-service date for a reengined version.

Aviation Week understands Airbus and Rolls-Royce are close to signing up for an exclusive engine deal for the A330neo.

Leahy says that so far the trade studies are internal and remain within Airbus. “We are not showing the aircraft yet to customers.” Airbus is widely expected to formally launch the A330neo at the July Farnborough Air Show.