Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer says he is “not worried about a slowdown” in aircraft demand despite lower airline profitability and the risk of trade wars.

“You are talking to a pretty frustrated commercial director because I have no [additional] aircraft to sell,” he said on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Seoul June.

The next production slots are available in 2024, Scherer added. Nonetheless Scherer conceded that because of the trade tensions “people are going to be apprehensive about making decisions” and that there is “a little weakening in cargo.” Airbus is also “entertaining deferral discussions” with some customers, but these are “discreet events and no global phenomena.”

In his view, there is “nothing systemic” in the slower pace of orders this year. In the year to the end of April, Airbus recorded -58 net orders. The company had 67 gross orders.

The proposed A321XLR long-range version of the A321neo could be available at the earliest in 2023/24 should Airbus go ahead with the derivative, Scherer said.

“There is a lot of interest in extended range capability of single-aisle aircraft. The market seems to tell us that we are on the right path.”

He pointed out that even A220s are being considered for transatlantic operations.

Airbus is widely expected to launch a new version of the A32neo with even more range than the A321LR at the Paris Air Show in mid-June.

Longer range versions of both the A350-900 and -1000 have been pitched to Qantas for that airline’s “project sunrise” targeted at nonstop flights between Sydney and London.

“We are very excited about our ability to respond to ultra-long-range flying,” Scherer said.

Scherer also sees “a lot of momentum in the market” for the A330neo, particularly in Asia-Pacific.

Airbus plans to deliver around 50 A330s in 2019 and even more in 2020.

Jens Flottau