Paris Air Show

Boeing’s Conner Rejoins Airbus’s Widebody Challenge

 - June 16, 2013, 2:00 PM

Boeing harbors no interest in getting into a so-called price war with Airbus, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner insisted during a roundtable discussion with journalists yesterday in Paris. But when pressed for a reaction to Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier’s recent comments about his ambitions to attract more than 50 percent of the widebody market, Conner eagerly answered the challenge. “I would say the same thing,” quipped Conner. “So it’s going to be fun. We look forward to it.”

Although Conner acknowledged that airlines will benefit from the existence of competing product lines in the widebody market, he stressed that price won’t play as big a part in winning campaigns as would bringing to market a better product. “I think our product line is going to be a lot broader when you account [for] the family of the 787 and the 777 and 777X family on top of that, as well as the 747-8. I don’t think anybody covers it better than the Boeing company when you bring in the 777X.”

Notwithstanding Conner’s emphasis on the breadth of Boeing’s product family, he acknowledged that a more aggressive effort is needed to contain costs across its organization to compete effectively. “Let’s not get into pricing war comments too much, but it is very competitive,” said Conner. “The only way we’re going to guarantee our employment and our future is to win in the marketplace. And to position ourselves to win we’ve got to be more focused on the cost side of things, because we have to fund our development and our future through the profit margins of our products that we sell today.”

On whether he thought Airbus enjoyed an unfair advantage on that score, Conner avoided creating any further controversy over the question of government subsidies, for example. “I wouldn’t say it’s unfair; it is what it is,” said Conner. “Whatever they have they have and whatever we have we have.”