Boeing Boss Downs Airbus on U.S. Supply Chain

The new boss of U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing 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, according to a report from Agence France-Presse, the French news agency.

"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 July 2nd 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 percent of the (U.S.) market," the new boss, who took up his post on June 26, told journalists in London. He added that supply chain challenges would prove to be a problem for his competitor, saying he doubted the new assembly line would allow Airbus 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?"

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 today, July 9th, southwest of London, is held every two years and alternates with the Bourget, north of Paris, as the aviation world's biggest event.

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