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Boeing Boss Unfazed by Airbus U.S. Move

July 9, 2012
'Customers don't care where products are made,' said Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Aviation

The new boss of aircraft manufacturer Boeing (IW 1000/49) on Sunday downplayed the impact of Airbus's decision to build a plant in the United States, saying that the customer did not care where a product was made.
"At the end of the day you win with the best products, the best value and the best relationships with customers," said Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Aviation, on the eve of Britain's Farnborough Airshow.

Airbus announced with much fanfare on Monday the construction of a production facility in Alabama which will build medium-haul A320 jets, bringing the European giant closer to its U.S. clients.

It hopes that the plant, which is due to produce its first aircraft in 2016, will convince the U.S. market that it is an American producer, potentially increasing its customer base.

However, Conner said he did not believe customers really cared where the planes were made. "If they did care, we'd have 100%of the (U.S.) market," said the new boss, who took up his post on June 26.

Boeing produces all of its aircraft in the United States, where it holds 80% market share. Airbus has plants in Toulouse, Hamburg and in Tianjin, China.

Conner also doubted that the new assembly line would allow Boeing's rival to significantly reduce the time needed to manufacture the aircraft. "A final assembly line is only as good as the sub-assembly lines that feed it," he argued.

"The real question is can you ramp up the supply chain to produce the aircraft sections needed to feed those different production lines?" he added.

Conner played down expectations of Boeing success at Farnborough, but analysts expect it to take revenge for last year's Paris Air Show, where Airbus overwhelmed it with a tidal wave of orders.
"We don't go to shows for orders," he said, but added: "it's always important to be number one, we always want to be number one".

The week-long Farnborough Air Show, which opens Monday south west of London, is held every two years and alternates with the Bourget, north of Paris, as the aviation world's biggest event.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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