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Airbus wages psychological warfare with its same decades-long strategy

It might not be close at hand, but the A321XLR, A320neo plus and A350neo are all in Airbus's DNA.

FUD Incoming: The acronym FUD stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s a common one among strategic planners, assessing the competition and how the chess pieces may move. Misdirection is valuable tool in any toolbox to throw your opponent off the scent. Bloomberg News has a most astonishing headline Airbus Reveals Plans for All-New Narrow-Body, Re-Engined A350 from reporter Ben Katz.

Airbus lays out its next 12 years: A321XLR in 2023, a stretch of the A320neo family called the “plus”, a re-engined A350neo mid-decade followed by an all-new single-aisle to replace the A320, which will be pushing past 40 years since the start of its service. The plan, including target production rates of 20 A350neos and 100 new single-aisles each month (simulated with a digital twin), was disclosed in a job listing “recruiting designers and engineers in Toulouse and Madrid” to work on the new projects. With hiring in France and Spain, this looks as much aimed as a message to the U.K. and its Brexit planning as it is pointed at its chief rival.

Related: Airbus XLR stalks Boeing NMA at Farnborough

But as Boeing approaches a decision on the NMA in the new year, the Airbus job listing is a FUD grenade in the middle of the company’s decision-making. Will it be forced to defend the 787 with a major update, too? Launch a 737 replacement sooner than intended? Either way the Airbus disclosure, which appears very meant to be seen publicly, shouldn’t surprise. That product progression is the continuation of its strategic DNA that has stretched decades.

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