Airbus has snubbed an effort by Ryanair, the low-cost airline, to draw it into a bidding contest against Boeing for the carrier’s next multi-billion dollar order for several hundred short-haul jets.
The European aircraft maker is unwilling to contemplate the scale of discounts being sought by Ryanair, which has established a reputation as one of the most aggressive negotiators of low-cost supply deals in the global aviation industry.
This week Ryanair said that it was in early talks with Boeing and Airbus about an order for 300-400 short-haul jets, one of the biggest purchases of new aircraft.
Michael Cawley, Ryanair deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, said that he expected the group to place the order within 18-24 months to take advantage of the rapidly weakening commercial aerospace market.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive and key senior colleagues have visited Airbus headquarters in Toulouse to outline their plans, but the European group, the commercial aircraft division of EADS, has told the airline that it is not interested at the prices Ryanair is seeking.
John Leahy, Airbus’s chief commercial officer, said: “We are not in discussions with Ryanair about aircraft. That is on the record. We don’t have plans to enter a sales campaign with Ryanair, which would be very expensive and very time consuming.”
The Irish carrier is seeking to repeat its coup of six years ago, when it placed its previous biggest order for 100 aircraft and a further 50 options in January 2002, close to the bottom of the last aviation recession.
It was the biggest order Boeing had ever received for its 737 jets, and Ryanair secured one of the largest discounts ever agreed by the US aircraft maker, which was then desperate for new orders.
Boeing and Airbus have said that they expect new orders to plunge this year to roughly a quarter of the peak combined industry level of more than 2,800 new orders won in 2007.
Ryanair has a single type fleet of 181 Boeing 737-800s. This is due to rise to 292 by March 2012, based on its existing firm orders.
It is looking to secure a delivery stream through the next decade to replace older jets and to allow for ongoing expansion.
Airbus is reluctant to enter sales campaigns that have little prospect of success.
EADS North America announced last week that it was withdrawing from the contest to supply replacement aircraft for the US presidential Air Force One fleet late in the next decade.