Airbus goes on attack at Paris Air Show

18th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

LE BOURGET, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - Airbus fired the first shots at the Paris Air Show on Monday, a vital battleground for the European plane maker and its US rival Boeing, with news of big orders from Middle Eastern clients.

LE BOURGET, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - Airbus fired the first shots at the Paris Air Show on Monday, a vital battleground for the European plane maker and its US rival Boeing, with news of big orders from Middle Eastern clients.

In the first hours of the Paris event, one of the world's biggest aerospace meetings, the European group orchestrated the announcement of new orders for its troubled superjumbo A380 from Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates.

At an Airbus press conference, Qatar Airways said it would buy three additional A380 superjumbos and confirmed a previous order for 80 mid-sized A350s.

The planes would be worth slightly more than 18 billion dollars (13.4 billion euros) at catalogue prices.

Soon afterwards, Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said his company planned to buy eight more A380s worth 2.5 billion dollars at catalogue prices.

Emirates was already the single biggest client for the A380 with an order for 43 of the aircraft.

The week-long Paris Air Show sees Airbus and Boeing, the world's biggest manufacturers of civilian aircraft, go head-to-head in a commercial and public relations contest.

The companies use the event to clinch new business and compete in announcing new orders for their latest aircraft.

Airbus has fallen far behind Boeing for new orders in 2007 after being overtaken by the US manufacturer in 2006.

But chief executive Louis Gallois hinted that more new business was to come, saying that 100 orders for the mid-sized A350 plane would be made public by the end of the day.

Including the order from Qatar Airways, only 93 orders have been announced by Airbus since the launch of the 10-billion-euro A350 programme at the end of 2006.

The European manufacturer has had major production and design problems in the last few years and plunged into losses last year after a profit of 2.3 billion euros in 2006.

Deliveries of the A380, which is to enter service later this year, are running about two years behind schedule and Airbus is keen to shore up confidence in the project.

There was speculation that clients might cancel orders because of the production problems, but Airbus has reached compensation agreements with many clients.

Airbus was also forced to re-design its A350, which re-emerged with an enlarged body, after a poor response from clients to the original shape.

Boeing meanwhile has sprinted ahead in large part because of the popularity of its future mid-sized 787 model, which will enter service in mid-2008, five years ahead of the A350.

At the end of May, Airbus had reported 201 new orders for planes this year, while Boeing had 429 at the beginning of June.

The US-based group received a boost from aircraft leasing group GECAS on Monday, which said it had placed a firm order for six Boeing 777 cargo aircraft.

The Paris opened on Monday for industry professionals, but opens its doors to the public for three days from Thursday.

About 400,000 people are expected to visit the event, which features air displays as well as exhibitions, at the Le Bourget airfield on the outskirts of Paris.

Organisers decided to pay tribute to the helicopter this year, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary and is expected to be prominent throughout the week.

Visitors will be able to see a reconstruction of the prototype used by French bicycle maker and engineer Paul Cornu for the first vertical lift-off in 1907.

The first "helicopter" flight -- Cornu's contraption consisted of two spinning blades attached to a 24-horsepower engine -- took place in northern France and lifted the Frenchman 30 centimetres (12 inches) off the ground for about 20 seconds.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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