Air­bus says US to be No. 1 cus­tomer for A400M

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Euro­pean air­craft maker Air­bus be­lieves the United States will be the big­gest cus­tomer for its A400M mil­i­tary trans­port plane, de­spite a fa­tal crash in­volv­ing one of them dur­ing a test flight last month.

“By the next decade at the lat­est, the U.S. Armed Forces will be the big­gest cus­tomer for the air­craft,” Air­bus chief ex­ec­u­tive Tom En­ders told the weekly mag­a­zine Wirtschaft­sWoche in an in­ter­view.

De­spite its cur­rent tech­ni­cal prob­lems, there was no other ri­val prod­uct at the mo­ment, En­ders ar­gued.

Boe­ing’s C-17 was larger and Lock­heed Martin’s C- 130 was smaller.

“But a lot of coun­tries don’t want ei­ther ex­treme. For the next few years, there will only be one al­ter­na­tive, the A400M, which is also a lot more fuel-ef­fi­cient and more ver­sa­tile,” he said.

An A400M plane crashed dur­ing a test on May 9 near Seville in Spain, killing four of the six peo­ple on board and se­ri­ously in­jur­ing the two oth­ers.

The A400M, a large, pro­peller­driven trans­port air­craft, was launched in 2003 and is as­sem­bled in Seville. But the United King­dom, Ger­many, Turkey, Malaysia and Spain grounded their A400M planes af­ter the crash.

An ini­tial anal­y­sis of the black boxes re­vealed that three of the air­craft’s four en­gines failed, Air­bus has said.

En­ders said Air­bus was stick­ing to its sales and earn­ings tar­gets for this year, de­spite the crash.

“We’re on the right path achieve our pub­lished goals to for 2015,” the CEO said.

Air­bus is look­ing to in­crease both sales and earn­ings this year.

“In 2014, our op­er­at­ing profit was four bil­lion eu­ros on sales of 60 bil­lion eu­ros ( US$67.134 bil­lion),” he said. Cash flow was pos­i­tive, at 88 mil­lion eu­ros, com­pared with a neg­a­tive cash flow of around one bil­lion eu­ros in 2013.

Turn­ing to the pos­si­bil­ity of up­grad­ing its su­per jumbo A380, En­ders said a de­ci­sion would be reached by the end of this year.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tive board will need un­til the end of the year to get a full pic­ture of the sit­u­a­tion and to reach a de­ci­sion,” En­ders said.

“It is one of the most dif­fi­cult prod­uct de­ci­sions of the last few years. But it’s clear: there won’t be an A380 with new en­gines for just one cus­tomer.”

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