- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

PARIS (AP) — Boeing scored a victory in the airliner wars yesterday when FedEx became the first customer to cancel an order for Airbus’ much delayed A380 jumbo jets and said it instead will buy Boeing 777s.

FedEx Corp., the world’s largest express transportation company, cited production delays for its decision to retract an order for 10 of the new double-decker A380s. Its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.

“The availability and delivery timing of this aircraft, coupled with its attractive payload range and economics, make this choice the best decision for FedEx,” said Frederick W. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer.

The A380 cancellations leave 15 superjumbo freighter orders on the Airbus books — from United Parcel Service of America Inc. and International Lease Finance Corp. — and 142 orders for the plane’s passenger version.

Shares in Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. fell 3 percent yesterday to close at $26.26 in Paris. FedEx shares rose 78 cents to $114.72 on the New York Stock Exchange, where Boeing shares climbed $4.21 to $84.69 as the top gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Airbus recently doubled the production delay for the A380 jet to two years.

To streamline production, the European plane maker announced Monday that it will slash the number of suppliers it uses from 3,000 to 500.

Boeing said delivery of its aircraft to FedEx Express will begin in 2009.

“We’re looking forward to working with FedEx on this new chapter in our relationship,” said Ray Conner, vice president of sales for the Americas for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing spokesman Bob Saling declined to say how far out it has booked orders for the 777, saying only that it had some positions available in 2009 that it was able to make accessible to FedEx.

Airbus shocked investors and customers in June by doubling the 555-seater A380’s production delay to one year, blaming problems with wiring. In early October, it doubled the holdup to a total of two years and said the delay would wipe $6 billion off the profits of its parent company over four years.

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