Paris Air Show opens to Airbus-Boeing duel

13th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

LE BOURGET, France, June 13 (AFP) - The duel between Airbus and Boeing dominated the Paris Air Show on Monday, while in Geneva the rival manufacturers deadlocked in their subsidy row at the World Trade Organization.

LE BOURGET, France, June 13 (AFP) - The duel between Airbus and Boeing dominated the Paris Air Show on Monday, while in Geneva the rival manufacturers deadlocked in their subsidy row at the World Trade Organization.  

While the new super-jumbo Airbus A380 was billed the show's star, soaring in a flight display in an inaugural celebration led by French President Jacques Chirac, Airbus and Boeing dominated interest on the ground on the opening day.  

Boeing made one of the show's first announcements, saying that Irish low-cost airline Ryanair had converted options to buy five 737-800 aircraft to firm orders, bringing to 230 the number of firm orders by Ryanair for the single-aisle passenger planes.  

Then Qatar Airways weighed in with a 60-plane intention to order for the future Airbus A350 aircraft.  

The Doha-based airline also said it intended to buy at least 20 Boeing 777s, and valued the Airbus order at USD 10.6 billion (EUR 8.70 billion) and that for Boeing at USD 4.6 billion.  

The president of Qatar Airways, Akbar al Baker, said the airline had chosen the Airbus A350 in preference to Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner after deep analysis.  

A final decision to make "firm" orders was "imminent", he said, adding that negotiations were continuing.  

The order for the long-haul, medium capacity A350 would involve orders for both versions of the airliner, the A350-800 and the A350-900, for delivery between the middle of 2010 and 2015. The aircraft would be in addition to, and would eventually replace, the airline's A330 airliners.  

The order for Boeing would cover three versions of the B777, the 777-300 ER, the 777-200 F cargo plane, and the new 777-200 LR, the world's longest-range airliner and the latest in the Boeing fleet.  

These aircraft would be delivered between 2007 and 2010.  

The announcement by Qatar Airways was welcome news for Airbus, which had just 10 orders since it unveiled the A350 project in December and recently postponed its decision to launch it, originally intended to be announced at the show, until September.  

Airbus said last week that it hoped to announce 100 orders at the air show for the A350, the defensive response to Boeing's new energy-efficient 787 Dreamliner.  

Due to enter service in 2008, the 787 has won 266 orders and commitments from 21 airlines. Mike Bair, the vice president and general manager of the 787 Program, told a news conference that another 27 airlines were looking at the plane and some 420 orders were in the pipeline.  

He insisted the use of composite materials for half of the 787's structure gave Boeing a great price advantage by reducing building costs.  

"These composite structures are cheaper to build than aluminium," he said.  

While the commercial battle was in full swing at the biennial 46th International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport north of Paris, the subsidy row hit the trade battleground at the WTO.  

Airbus and Boeing blocked each other's moves in their first formal confrontation in the dispute, which then sent to the WTO two weeks ago with a request for arbitration.  

But all eyes were on the skies at Le Bourget as the huge A380 made its debut flight display at the show.  

The A380 - a giant double-decker craft that holds up to 840 passengers and flew for the first time on April 27 - is the new weapon in its European maker's competition with US rival Boeing.   Fortunes have turned recently in their battle, with Boeing now positioned to retake the lead in passenger airplane orders it lost five years ago. Airbus hopes to announce an order for the A380 at the show.  

The blockbuster Le Bourget showcase already has broken a number of records this year, from the number of exhibitors - about 1,900 - to the number of countries - 44. Organizers said that even additional exhibition space could not meet demand.  

Among the other aircraft making their first appearance at Le Bourget are French company Dassault Aviation's Falcon 7X, a tri-jet, long-range business jet; the Brazilian Embraer 195, a 118-seat regional airliner; and US company Gulfstream's business jets G450 and G550.  

Defence sector exhibits include Boeing's new tanker 767-300, the Italian training jet Aermacchi M346, Dassault's Mirage and Rafale fighter jets, and the Eurofighter fighter jet of the consortium of EADS, BAE Systems and Alenia of Italy.


Subject: French News

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