June 18, 2007

Airbus gets order boost at Paris show

LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) - Airbus unveiled over $40 billion (20 billion pounds) of orders or pledges on Monday, with a third of the business going to its A350 XWB programme, giving it a much-needed lift in its battle against Boeing .

Boosted by fast-growing hubs in the Middle East, the European group used the opening day of the Paris air show to unveil a firmed-up $17 billion sale to Qatar Airways and to show it had beaten off a Boeing challenge to a $10 billion order from US Airways .

Including orders from those two airlines and Kuwaiti aircraft financing company ALAFCO, Airbus clinched a total of 114 deals for the A350 XWB -- a plane vital to its hopes of catching up with Boeing and its hot-selling 787.

Qatar ordered 80 of the A350 XWB and added three of the A380 superjumbos to its shopping list, as well.

Qatar will be the first airline to get the A350 in 2013, Airbus President Louis Gallois told a news conference.

Rolls-Royce , the only manufacturer planning to supply an engine for the A350, said the Qatar order for 20 A350-800s, 40 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s would mean sales of engines and support worth $5.6 billion at list prices, its biggest ever civil engine deal.


Dubai-based Emirates signed a tentative deal for eight more of the hefty A380, a deal worth more than $3 billion that will take its total to 56 of the towering double-deckers.

The A380 is the other key focus for Airbus, as it looks to make up for the costly delays in the programme that have hurt the planemaker's reputation with customers.

Ministers from the four European countries in which Airbus has factories said after meeting at the air show that the delivery of the A380 would "a major step towards overcoming the difficulties" in the delayed superjumbo programme.

To have Emirates back in a buying mood is important, because the airline is the biggest A380 customer and is also on the hunt for up to 100 mid-sized planes.

US Airways, which had committed to 20 of an earlier proposed version of the A350, confirmed it would take 22 of the latest version, the XWB ("Xtra Wide Body"), instead.

By Jason Neely, European Aerospace & Airlines Correspondent
Additional reporting by Tim Hepher, James Regan and Bill Rigby
The full of this article's can be read on the source at: Interactive Investor

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