The new double-decker aircraft, carrying 480-600 passengers, could be in service in 2004, he said. Over the next 20 years there will be a market for more than 1,300 aircraft, worth more than pounds 200bn.
Dismissing claims from rival manufacturer Boeing that there is no need for such a large aircraft, Airbus said that from 2004 onward the A3XX is set to become the standard-setter for long-range travel.
The new airliner is vital to the future of the Airbus consortium, Mr Foregeard said. The economic benefits of the project would last for 40 years and bring in nearly pounds 20bn in export orders.
Earlier the German economics minister, Gunther Rexrodt, said the German government would like to see the super-jumbo jet built in the east German city of Rostock.
Plans to convert Airbus from a partnership into a single limited company which could be floated on the stock markets have slipped until the middle of 1999, Mr Foregeard said.
The plans have been held up by the reluctance of two of the partners, BAe and Daimler-Benz Aerospace, to form a joint company before the third key partner, Aerospatiale, is privatised. But a DASA spokesman yesterday denied French fears that it would merge with BAe without Aerospatiale.
Airbus yesterday confirmed a 3 per cent rise in its aircraft prices to follow a 5 per cent increase announced by Boeing.
Harry Stonecipher, Boeing's president, yesterday apologised to customers for delayed deliveries which he blamed on the company's arrogance and self-satisfaction.