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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airbus To Build Jumbo Jet

SINGAPORE -- Airbus Industrie, eager to break Boeing's stranglehold on the lucrative giant plane market, said Wednesday it planned to launch its own new "Superjumbo" jet in the next two years.

The European consortium was stung by not landing two huge Singapore and Malaysian Airline contracts that went to Boeing in November and is now accelerating plans for its plane, code-named A3XX, that would carry 550 passengers.

"We are looking at the aircraft ideally being launched in the next two years. Then you would have the aircraft in the market place between the years 2001 and 2003," senior Airbus vice president John Leahy told Reuters in an interview.

He said major airlines like British Airways were eager to see a new "superplane" on the market.

Financing for the $8 billion project could come from a combination of direct government aid, internally generated funds, loans on the commercial market and a "risk sharing partner," Leahy said.

He said the top priority was finding that partner. Talks have been held all over the world, but no clear favorite has emerged, he said without elaborating.

Leahy said forecasts showed that 25 percent of all airline revenues in the next 20 years would come from large planes.

He confirmed that talks between Boeing and the four European partners in Airbus over the development of a Very Large Commercial Transport aircraft had ended without agreement.

Boeing is now mulling plans to move up from the current 747-400 jumbo jet to a -500 and -600 series.

Boeing and Airbus are locked in a war of words at the Asian Aerospace show in Singapore, one of the world's largest air shows and a crucial marketplace for the aviation industry.

Boeing's senior planning vice president, Lawrence Clarkson, openly taunted Airbus over its 3XX plans.

"From a Boeing standpoint, I probably want them to launch the 3XX because it will take all the resources, probably more, that they have ... so they won't be able to do some of the other things that they ought to do with their product line," he said Monday.

Leahy's response was frosty. The aircraft industry "would still be flying [Boeing] 727's if it wasn't for Airbus Industrie," he said. "They have been bringing out new models in response to Airbus."

Airbus is a consortium of France's Aerospatiale, British Aerospace plc, Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace and CASA of Spain.

"It appears we were not able to come up with a common philosophy," he said.

"Even airlines that may not ultimately select the 3XX clearly would like to have Airbus launch it so that there is competition to the 747 in the market," he added.