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Airbus to decide soon if market needs new A350 variant: exec

An Airbus A350 XWB aircraft.

[DUBAI] Airbus is studying whether there is demand for a larger member of its A350 jet family and expects to make up its mind within a couple of months, its sales chief said on Monday.

The European planemaker is not yet offering a specific design to airlines, but anything that it does decide to build would leapfrog Boeing's 777X, he said, referring to a new 406-seat version of the US company's 777 wide-body series.

Airbus's largest twin-engined jet is the 369-seat A350-100, which competes partly with the 365-seat Boeing 777-300ER.

Asked about speculation that Airbus could build a larger version of the A350, sales chief John Leahy told Reuters: "We don't know yet. If I had to bet, the larger part of the market will stay around the A350-1000 or 777-300ER size category. "I think in the next couple of months we will know if we want to do something." Speaking to Reuters on Sunday, Airbus planemaking chief executive Fabrice Bregier did not rule out expanding the A350 family, but said this was not an immediate priority .

In a sign that any new plane would be marketed so as to try to avoid upstaging the existing A350-1000, Mr Leahy denied that the potential new plane would be called the A350-1100.