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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Boeing touts comeback strategy
Boeing's new Dreamliner 7E7
Will the Dreamliner win back Boeing's customers?
US aircraft maker Boeing has outlined its comeback strategy after it became clear that it will lose its top spot to Europe's Airbus this year.

Boeing executives predicted that a fuel-efficient 200-seat jet, newly christened the Dreamliner 7E7, is what customers will really want once the current downturn passes.

Its fierce rival, Airbus, has so far had all the limelight at the Paris Airshow, after winning a $12.5bn (7.5bn) order for 41 new planes from the Dubai-based airline Emirates.

The European aircraft company said it was on target to deliver 300 jets this year - far above its previous forecast of 175 - despite facing the industry's worst ever downturn.

Boeing, however, has notched up just 36 orders so far this year, and is predicting about 280 deliveries in total.

Direct path

Boeing is now concentrating on fuel-efficiency - allowing passengers to fly directly to their destination - as the way forward after ditching ill-fated plans for the high-speed Sonic Cruiser.

Airbus and Emirates after new deal is signed
Airbus clinched the main deal of the show
"We've made great progress in our conversion from the Cruiser to the more fuel-efficient version," said Boeing's Mike Bair, who heads the Dreamliner project.

"It's important to get some of the buzz back," he said, forecasting demand for up to 3,000 of the new planes over the next 20 years.

There is already mounting speculation as to who will help build the new jets, with Japan's Mitsubishi hoping for a slice of the action.

Boeing forecasts that airlines will spend about $3.3 trillion on maintenance, training and support over the next two decades, and is hoping that 2004 will be the year for recovery.

"Boeing's best assessment is that traffic comes back in 2003, the airlines repair their balance sheets and keep working on their productivity, and get back on track in 2004," Boeing chief executive Alan Mulally said.

Signs of hope

Airbus, however, says it is already seeing the start of a turnaround.

Paris air show
The biennial air show first took place in 1909
"The market is better than we expected, and our market share has increased much more than we anticipated," said Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard.

"We are realistic about the current economic environment, but we are also optimistic."

The Sars outbreak in Asia, the war in Iraq, and concerns over terrorism and slow economic growth have all depressed airline traffic, leading the major carriers to cut back on orders for new aircraft.

The industry has racked up losses of about $30bn over the past two years, and is expected to lose a further $10bn this year.

The industry's crisis means the planes are likely to have been sold at a heavy discount from the catalogue prices being quoted.

Airbus wins $12.5bn deal
16 Jun 03  |  Business
Trouble in the air at Paris
15 Jun 03  |  Business
Airbus steals show at Paris
16 Jun 03  |  Business

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