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Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Boeing bows to Airbus
Airbus plane factory
Airbus has 111 new aeroplanes to get building

By BBC's John Terrett in Paris

Airbus has swung way ahead of Boeing in the transatlantic battle of the order books.

Airbus has scooped up a $9.4 bn deal for one hundred and eleven aircraft from the US-based leasing company ILFC.

Crucially for Airbus the order includes a commitment to buy five of its big idea for the future - the A380 super jumbo which is intended to fly up to 800 people into hub airports.

"We have more space, we fly further, we have bigger seats, it'll be a completely new experience in flight," John Leahy, chief commercial officer of Airbus told the BBC.

The $9.4 bn deal was secured at the Paris airshow. On Monday, $5bn changed hands at the show.

Boeing's vision

But Boeing, over on the other side of the Atlantic, is running with a different vision, having already bailed out of its hotel in the sky option last year.

Seats aboard the A380 superjumbo
Luxury aboard the A380 superjumbo
Boeing believes that a fast, comfortable ride is what is required.

It unveiled a scale model of the Sonic Cruiser designed to fly more than 100 passengers - just below the speed of sound - to the airport they actually want to go to without changing planes.

"It really offers the travellers of the world the opportunity to travel anywhere they want to go in the world, point to point, non-stop, and to be able to get to their destination faster," Alan Mulally, CEO of commercial Boeing told the BBC.

But it is still only a model and the real work is about to begin.

Alan Mulally and his team must convince airlines that the Sonic Cruiser will work for them. Size capacity and range have all yet to be agreed.

Potential military orders

And Airbus's military division is providing yet more good news for the European side.

John Leahy, chief commercial officer of Airbus
John Leahy: it'll be a completely new experience in flight
EU defence ministers flew in to sign a memorandum of understanding to buy 212 A400Ms.

This will be Europe's first heavylift military cargo plane for many years.

This is the penultimate stage before contracts are signed at the end of September, assuming that European nations can agree on final specifications.

But there are some sceptics within the industry who think that the A400M will never fly.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Terrett
"Focus on Boeing, Airbus and their future contractual plans"
Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy
"People do not exactly pay catalogue prices if you buy 111 aircraft"


Analysis

The A380

PICTURE GALLERY
See also:

30 Mar 01 | Business
19 Jun 01 | Business
18 Jun 01 | Business
30 Mar 01 | Business
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