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Airbus Set to Hit 200-order Goal
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Airbus SAS is halfway to its year-end goal of winning 200 firm orders for the A350 jet after the first day of the Paris Air Show, as the European planemaker tries to catch up with Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner, Bloomberg News said.


Qatar Airways agreed to buy 80 of the widebody, long-range aircraft. Kuwait's Aviation Lease & Finance signed for 12 and US Airways Group Inc announced a preliminary agreement on Monday for 22. Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, used its home turf to tout orders and commitments valued at US$42.6 billion, while Boeing won US$4.4 billion in business.


Airbus squandered its position as the dominant planemaker with its bet on the 555-seat A380 superjumbo jet, which is two years behind schedule and will cut profit at parent European Aerospace & Defence Co by 4.8 billion euros (US$6.4 billion) by 2010. Boeing has 584 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, while Airbus had 13 firm contracts for the A350 before the show. Boeing beat Airbus in orders last year for the first time since 2001.


"Any good news, Airbus gets the trumpet because they have to," said William Smith, founder of Smith Asset Management Inc, which oversees US$80 million of assets in New York. "Going forward there will be an even bigger disparity between the companies' order books."


Boeing's total for the year as of May was 417, more than double the orders at Airbus, which said on June 7 it had a total of 201 contracts through the end of May. On Monday, Airbus won a total of 219 firm orders at the show.


"It was a good day's work," said John Leahy, Airbus's chief commercial officer, after more than a half dozen order briefings.


Boeing reported an order from Indonesia's PT Lion Mentari Airlines for 40 737s and a contract to sell six 777 freighters to General Electric Co's GECAS plane-leasing arm on the first day of the show. Both had been previously announced as orders from unidentified customers.


The A350 deals are a boost for Airbus in the most lucrative segment of the US$60 billion-a-year commercial aircraft market, medium-sized, long-range jets.


Airbus Chief Executive officer Louis Gallois has set the goal of winning 200 firm orders by the end of the year. The order from Arizona-based US Airways is not yet firm.


(Shanghai Daily June 21, 2007)


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