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Boeing shrugs off Airbus 'old technology'

Boeing has dismissed the launch of rival Airbus's A330 neo, with the chief executive of the U.S.aircraft manufacturer saying he was confident his planes were competition enough against what he described as the "older technology" of his European rival.

France-based Airbus has used the Farnborough International Airshow to officially launch two new additions of its wide-body family with CEO Fabrice Brégier telling CNBC this year will prove to be "crucial" for the company's future.

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A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, produced by Boeing Co., as it stands on display prior to the opening of the Farnborough International Airshow
Simon Dawson I Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, produced by Boeing Co., as it stands on display prior to the opening of the Farnborough International Airshow

Boeing chief executive and chairman Jim McNerney said he welcomes the competition, but added that his firm had the "market covered".

"Well, it (the A330 neo) is a older technology airplane that is being improved. It will compete with brand new technology airplanes that we've got across a wide spectrum of widebodies, so we are always welcome the competition," McNerney told CNBC.

"We feel highly confident in our new technology line that is already in place as it competes against a refurbished A330," he said.

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Airbus has added new, more fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines to rival Boeing's much newer 787 Dreamliner, cutting fuel consumption by 14 percent per seat it said in a statement.

"With our decision to re-engine the plane, we will keep the A330 flying high for many more years to come," said Bregier in a statement.

The European planemaker added that development costs for the A330 neo would be be incurred from 2015 to 2017, with an impact of around -70 basis points on Airbus Group's 2015 return on sales target.

In orders for the first half of this year, Boeing has taken 499 against Airbus's 290. Bregier predicted up to 100 orders for the A330neo during the airshow.

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"It's great news for us...we have a great product," he said.

McNerney went on to dismiss fears of a bubble in the aviation industry, pointing out that deferrals and cancellations of orders on aircraft were currently below historical averages.

He also said he was "optimistic" U.S. congress would not wind up the country's Export-Import Bank, which underwrites orders, as it could not only hit the group's orders but also hurt the 6,000 small businesses Boeing supports.

"It is possible we would lose orders and we don't want to be put into a position of being disadvantaged. We think our technology is the main reason people buy our airplanes," McNerney added.

But he went on to warn that an end to the Export-Import Bank would put "a lot of pressure on us and a lot of pressure on other globally competitive teams in this country."

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