- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2007

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Airbus stole the spotlight from U.S. rival Boeing Co. on the opening day of the world’s largest air show yesterday, announcing deals worth about $43 billion.

Boeing, in contrast, tallied up orders worth $4.4 billion. Some, but not all, of the Airbus orders were new — Qatar Airways confirmed a purchase of 80 of Airbus’ problem-plagued A350 jets, worth more than $18 billion.

However, despite its early lead in the traditional trans-Atlantic rivalry at the weeklong Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, Airbus still has a long way to go to match Boeing’s superselling Dreamliner 787.

Going into the fair, Chicago-based Boeing had already secured 584 orders for the Dreamliner, compared with Airbus’ total of 13 firm orders and 142 non-final commitments for its A350.

The Toulouse-based plane maker added 114 new firm orders for the A350 yesterday, including the 80 from Qatar and 12 from Kuwait’s Aviation Lease & Finance Co. US Airways also announced plans to add two to its previous order of 20. Including firm orders and future commitments, Airbus said it received orders for a total of 339 aircraft valued at $43.3 billion based on average list prices.

The success of the A350 is by no means assured. Airbus’ decision to redesign the jet after customer complaints — resulting in the extra-wide-body, or XWB, model — has pushed back its delivery date until 2013.

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