Airbus mops up India, Qatar orders at rainy Paris show

22nd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

European plane maker Airbus bathed in a shower of orders and sales of its A320 medium-haul workhorse, including a record deal for 180 for Indian budget carrier IndiGo at a rainy Paris Air Show Wednesday.

On top of that $15 billion (10-billion-euro) sale, Airbus was also expected to sign a deal with Qatar Airways to buy five of its A380 superjumbos, an industry source said.

Both deals include big orders of the star of this year's trade show: the retooled, more fuel-efficient A320neo.

Airbus's US rival Boeing for its part signed a memorandum of understanding for the sale of 40 B737 medium-haul planes to Russian company UTair Aviation for a list of price of 3.2 billion dollars.

The monster A380, in the light blue livery of Korean Air, sat on the runway at the old Le Bourget airfield, brought in at the last minute after the intended show model damaged its wing on arrival. That craft was due to appear later on Wednesday after repairs.

Nearby stood its rival, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The first Dreamliner due to fly long-haul commercial routes was presented by its launch customer, Japan's All Nippon Airways, which vaunted it as a key to its ambitious expansion.

"We have a target to expand our international network and the 787 will play a significant role in that target," Shuichi Fujimura, a senior vice president of the airline (ANA), told reporters, presenting a model of the plane's future dark blue striped livery.

He said the airline hoped to expand in Asia and could one day directly serve new destinations in Europe.

The Dreamliner wowed the crowds when it landed on Tuesday at Le Bourget, site of the world's biggest aviation industry show.

On the rainy third day of the show, visitors were able to splash through the puddles to climb aboard ANA's Boeing 787, minus some seats and trimmings, and admire its larger-than- normal cabin windows, a point of pride for the airline.

Boeing has long delayed its first delivery to ANA due to technical setbacks, which Fujimura said is now expected in August or September.

It is heralded as a new generation of highly fuel-efficient mid-sized aircraft for long-haul routes.

But most of the action on Wednesday involved the A320neo.

The 180 planes bought by IndiGo include 150 of the A320neo and Qatar Airways was expected to sign up for 50 of them, according to sources close to the deals who asked not to be named.

Kuwaiti plane hire firm Alafco signed an accord for six big long-haul Airbus A350s for 1.6 billion dollars at list prices.

Republic, the owner of US Frontier Airlines, signed a preliminary agreement to buy 80 A320neo worth $7 billion at list prices, Airbus said.

Latin American carrier AviancaTaca announced it intended to order 51 medium-carrier Airbus A320s, including 33 of the Neo. The order was worth $4.5 billion at catalogue prices.

Italy's Blue Panorama Airlines will buy 12 Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100s for an estimated $370 million at the Paris show, the Italian company involved in the Russian-led aerospace project said in Milan.

The show opens to the public on Friday.

© 2011 AFP

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