Airbus believes most airlines will order the larger variant of the just-launched Airbus A330neo, but has not considered dropping the smaller version as it neared the re-engining decision. “Most airlines will order the A330-900, but I still want to be in that category,” Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy told Aviation Week at the Farnborough Air Show. For the smaller segment, the A330-800 is “the better solution than a new aircraft like the A350-800.”

Airbus has essentially given up on building the A350-800, for which it still has 34 firm order remaining to be converted to either the A350-900 or A330neo.

Leahy has “no problem with rate ten” for the A330neo program. Airbus is currently producing ten A330s per month and Leahy concedes that may not be sustainable in the transition phase from the current model to the new version in 2017 and 2018. “But I prefer not to go down too far, because that would make it more difficult to get back up again.”

Tom Williams, Airbus Executive Vice President Programs believes that the A330neo will have to go down to what he believes is a more sustainable production rate of 7-8 aircraft per month.

Leahy insists that the A330neo is here to stay for the long term. “It will sell very well until Boeing is doing something new,” he says. He argues that the A330-900 will be on par in terms of operating costs with the 787-9, but will be available at 25% lower capital costs.