London, July 8 (ANI): Boeing boss Jim McNerney has claimed that the American aircraft builder will outsell fierce French rival Airbus for "a number of years", despite having been No 2 to the latter for nearly a decade.
Speaking ahead of the start of the Farnborough International Air show, the most important date in the aviation industry's calendar, McNerney conceded that Boeing and Airbus's duopoly in the 100 billion-pound-a-year aircraft market could be broken by the Chinese as soon as 2017.
Any sales defeat for Airbus's owner Eads could hurt the UK, as around 140,000 people are directly or indirectly employed through the group's wing manufacturing work in Broughton, North Wales, and Filton, near Bristol.
According to The Independent, although Airbus has received more orders for its aircraft than Boeing for each of the past nine years, Boeing has outsold the group by four times in the first quarter of 2012.
This is partly explained by the impact of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX, which Boeing unveiled last year as an alternative to Airbus's hugely popular A320neo.
The paper quoted McNerney, as saying: "I think we will, in all likelihood, pull slightly ahead of them [Airbus], either this year or next... But, you know, over the years we've been ahead sometimes; they've been ahead recently. And I think there's a good chance that we will pull ahead for a number of years."
He also admitted to having some regret at not launching the MAX six-to-12 months earlier, as Airbus has "some advantages as the first mover" in the fuel-efficient aircraft market.
Demand for these planes is on the rise as fuel prices soar and emissions targets spread wider.
Airbus and Boeing have been the subject of long running trade disputes between the European Union and the US over state aid. And both have been found by the World Trade Organisation to have received billions of dollars in state subsidies and loans.
China has been developing the Comac, which is in the narrow-body family of aircraft, the single-aisle model loved by commercial operators for their short-haul flights.
McNerney said: "Some time in the next five-to-15 years, in my judgment, there'll be a legitimate competitor in the narrow-body from the Chinese." (ANI)