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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Airshow Provides Impetus for Airbus

FARNBOROUGH, England -- Airbus, reeling from a management shakeup that followed delays in its flagship superjumbo jet program, unveiled a long-awaited revamp of its mid-sized A350 on Monday.

The plane will be called the A350XWB for "extra-wide body," the company announced at Britain's Farnborough Air Show, one of the biggest events in the aeronautical industry.

"This is an entirely new design, without compromise and using all the latest technology," new Airbus CEO Christian Streiff said. He said the industrial launch would go ahead in October and that the plane would enter service in mid-2012.

A redesign was long expected for the plane, which was billed as a rival to Boeing's long-range, fuel-efficient 787. It had won just 100 orders compared to 360 firm orders for the 787.

Tom Enders, the joint CEO of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space, had confirmed this weekend that the company would announce the revamp at Farnborough, increasing its development cost to about $10 billion from the previously estimated $5.7 billion.

Airbus has been struggling to get back on track since the announcement last month of a further seven-month delay to its A380 superjumbo program sent EADS shares plunging and led to the departure of Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert and EADS co-CEO Noel Forgeard. The European plane maker also reported last week that its sales fell by more than half in the first six months of the year to 117 planes, compared to Boeing's 480 orders for the same period.

"Yes, Airbus is in the middle of a serious crisis in our relationship with our customers. Yes, this is something we are taking extremely seriously inside Airbus, and yes, we know the competition is taking advantage of this today," Streiff said at a news conference following a presentation from Boeing.

Seeking to reassure customers and investors that Airbus was on the road to recovery, Streiff said he would personally oversee "all aspects" of the new A350XWB program over the next three months. He also reaffirmed the company's faith in the 555-seat A380 superjumbo, which is taking part in the daily flying displays in Farnborough.

"It's a great aircraft, it is performing very well in test flights and in the certification process," he said.

Airlines were expected to announce new plane purchases from both plane makers during the show. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Alan Mulally said the company was talking to 25 potential buyers for the 747-8, a larger version of its jumbo developed in response to the troubled A380.

Boeing acknowledged Sunday that its 787 Dreamliner was overweight and experiencing delays with some suppliers -- while stressing that the jet remains on budget and on schedule.

"We're a little over where we want to be at this time on weight, but ahead of where we were on previous programs, so we're really focused on weight-efficient structure right now," Mulally said at a briefing for reporters in London.

Boeing does not communicate development costs for its aircraft, reported to have cost about $9 billion. Company spokesman Charlie Miller said the supply and weight issues alluded to by Mulally would not affect the program's budget or delay the schedule.