At a hastily called press conference to celebrate Airbus' win of a 60-plane order for the proposed A350...

Share story

At a hastily called press conference to celebrate Airbus’ win of a 60-plane order for the proposed A350, chief executive Noel Forgeard said his company can launch the plane without European government aid if necessary.

“Which does not mean that we will spit on any form of support that would be jointly agreed,” Forgeard added.

“We shall do the A350 anyway,” he said, “since we have the orders.”

Forgeard arrived late to join chief salesman John Leahy. Coming straight from a meeting with French president Jacques Chirac, Forgeard bustled in with his trademarked wide-eyed, impish grin at the assembled press. He listened while Leahy gave his confident assessment.

“We’re sitting at 90 (A350 orders) right now and it’s only the first day of the show,” said Leahy. “Having 100 by the end of the week is in the bag.”

Leahy’s total adds in 20 jets ordered by US Air as a result of Airbus’ investment in the struggling carrier’s planned merger with America West. It also includes 10 jets for Air Europa, which ordered the A350 last year when it was a cheaper derivative of the A330.

Leahy said that Air Europa would get the upgrade at the original contract price—quite a deal.

Forgeard gave the development cost of the A350 as EUROS 4.35 billion or $5.3 billion.

He said the delay in formally launching the airplane was due to the complex process of optimizing the financing.

With Qatar’s order, the A350 is at last in the game and the 787 has a rival.