The Air Current

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FARNBOROUGH — A pair of paper airplanes. A pair of divergent strategies.

The fight for the nascent middle of the market – a segment increasingly seen as necessary to survive the future saturation of the skies – is today a battle between paper airplanes from Boeing and Airbus.

As Boeing looks to an all-new design, Airbus opts for incremental evolution. The divergence has both echos of the original A350 strategy of 2005 and the 2011 push for a 737 replacement from Boeing. The debate eventually spawned the A350 XWB and 737 Max.

Boeing will decide in the first quarter of 2019 if it will formally begin selling its own small twin-aisle New Middle-Market Airplane (NMA), but Airbus’s potential response has always been conceptual.

Airbus is also firming up its plans for a 2019 decision for its next updates to the A321neo, dubbed by some as the A321XLR, according to Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

“We will come up with a complete result of the assessment from the supply chain, in Airbus inside, feedback from the airlines next year to be able to make decisions and move forward or not,” said Faury, in an interview with The Air Current. “And that’s probably ‘yes’, move forward.”

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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