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Thursday, November 26, 1998 Published at 10:40 GMT

Business: The Company File

BA confirms Airbus order

Landing the BA order will be a major triumph for Airbus over rivals Boeing

British Airways has confirmed that it has placed firm orders to buy 59 Airbus passenger aircraft, worth several billion of dollars.

The deal is part of a BA's largest ever single order of up to 220 planes, the majority of them Airbus.

It is the first time that Britain's biggest airline has ordered planes from the European consortium rather than its traditional supplier, American plane-maker Boeing.

The Seattle-based company will have to console itself with 16 firm orders and 16 options on its large Boeing 777 airplanes.

Rolls-Royce will supply the engines for the Airbus planes.

The Airbus deal will be sealed this morning during a visit to the Airbus factory in Toulouse by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

[ image: British Aerospace workers who make the wings for Airbus will welcome the deal]
British Aerospace workers who make the wings for Airbus will welcome the deal
The order consists of a mixture of A-319 and A-320 small airliners.

European jobs

The order safeguards jobs across Europe, as the parts of Airbus planes are assembled in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Champagne corks will certainly be popping at the headquarters of British Aerospace if the deal does go ahead as expected.

BAe has a 20% stake in Airbus Industrie and the order will help safeguard jobs at its plant in Cheshire where the Airbus wings are made.

The BA decision is also good news for BAe's Filton plant at Bristol, where Airbus research and development work is conducted.

British Aerospace has 6,000 people working on Airbus orders and altogether the aircraft accounts for around 25,000 jobs in the UK.

Rolls-Royce also has a 30% share in International Aero Engines which makes the the power plants for the aircraft.

Blow for Boeing

BA's current fleet is mainly made up of aircraft made by Airbus's arch-rival Boeing.

Out of a fleet of 256 airliners, it includes 212 Boeings of various types.

Earlier this year BA said that it was calling on both Boeing and Airbus to put forward proposals to supply short-haul jets.

Boeing had hoped to woo BA with its new generation of 737 planes.

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