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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Airbus beats Boeing to jumbo deal
Cheong Choong-Kong
Singapore Airlines CEO Cheong Choong Kong, right, believes the future lies with larger aircraft
Airbus has landed the biggest order yet for its new A3XX super jumbo, beating bitter rivals Boeing.

Singapore Airlines is to buy 10 of the advanced double-deck passenger jets, with an option to buy 15 more, in a deal worth $8.6bn.

The airline's choice of the A3XX over Boeing's 747x super jumbo, will come as a severe blow to the US plane-maker.

It brings the number of firm orders for the new Airbus plane to 32. The European consortium says it needs just 18 more orders to make production viable.

Hard fought

"It was a hard fought contest." Singapore Airlines chief executive Cheong Choong Kong said.

"An important reason for the choice of A3XX was its new technology. Economic reasons were also a factor.

"With congestion in air space and airports all over the world...a larger aircraft will allow us to carry more passengers without having to get additional landing slots," he said.

The airline plans to deploy the new plane on services to London, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Singapore Airlines is the fourth operator to commit to buying the A3XX.

Middle Eastern carrier Emirates Airlines has ordered five of the jets, with an option to buy five more.

Air France, and US leasing company ILFC have also made commitments to buy the new plane, which can carry up to 656 passengers.

More orders expected

The orders should secure thousands of jobs across Europe, including those at BAE Systems, the UK company which owns 20% of Airbus.

BAE will produce the wings for the new aircraft.

Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeaard said he was confident of securing a further 18 orders for the A3XX by Christmas, so manufacturing could begin early next year.

The first A3XX is scheduled for delivery in 2006.

Singapore Airlines is to make a decision on the type of engine it wants to install in the A3XX next month.

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See also:

19 Sep 00 | Middle East
Iraq 'wants to buy 20 Airbus jets'
07 Sep 00 | Business
Airbus trims forecast
24 Jul 00 | Business
Airbus clinches super jumbo deals
30 Apr 00 | Middle East
First orders for Europe's superjumbo
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