(Updates with Boeing comment in fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co. defended its commitment to the 737 MAX after rival Airbus SAS said the U.S. planemaker may switch back to its original strategy of developing an all-new successor to the single-aisle jet.
Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy told reporters on a conference call that Boeing “may have to go back to an all- new clean-sheet airplane to compete" with Airbus’s A320neo, an upgrade of the European planemaker’s model that vies with the 737. Leahy said he based his comments on reports from suppliers and airlines that Boeing hadn’t dismantled the team that had been working on a brand new successor.
A Boeing spokeswoman said the Chicago-based company doesn’t expect a new airplane until well into the next decade and cited 700 commitments for the MAX from nine customers.
‘‘The 737 is better than our competition today, and with the MAX, will be even better tomorrow,” Karen Crabtree, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Boeing, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are pleased with the work completed to date” and don’t expect a new airplane until “well into the next decade.”
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