Oct. 23 - Airbus has opened a $15 billion factory as it looks to expand production of its new A350 airliner which is the next step in its battle with U.S. rival Boeing. Andrew Potter reports.
The next step in the passenger jet wars. This $15 billion factory being opened in Toulouse will help Airbus increase production of its next model, the A350. More than 550 have already been ordered, and Chief Operating Officer Guenter Butschek says delivery targets are ambitious. SOUNDBITE: GUENTER BUTSCHEK, AIRBUS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SAYING (ENGLISH): "By the end of 2018, ten beautiful A350s will be rolling out of the door every month." The A350 is a response to this aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner built by arch-rival Boeing. Both have twin engines, and are made of lightweight carbon-composite materials rather than aluminium to cut airline fuel bills. The factory will build another model too, the A350-1000. It's large enough to take on the Boeing 777, an airliner made from tradtional metal which is still extremely popular. Didier Evrard is head of the A350 programme. SOUNDBITE: DIDIER EVRARD, AIRBUS HEAD OF A350 PROGRAMME, SAYING (English): "On everything from aerodynamics and systems, to the cockpit and the cabin, the A350 combines the best of new and exisiting and creates something very special, very efficient and profitable to our customers." Airbus and Boeing expect this segment of the market to grow rapidly. Orders for 6000 jets are expected in the next 20 years. That will eclipse demand for the traditional kings of the sky, the super size Airbus A380 and latest version of the Boeing 747. The first A350 is expected to fly next year and make its commercial debut the year after.