Airbus Flies By Boeing With $14.5Bln in Sales
- By Paul Majendie
- Jul. 27 2000 00:00
FARNBOROUGH, England -- Airbus edged ahead of Boeing Co. on Tuesday in the multibillion dollar race to notch up the most sales at Britain's Farnborough air show.
In a flurry of mega deals over the first two days of the weeklong industry showpiece, Airbus announced an estimated $14.5 billion of new orders to $13.3 billion for Boeing. After 30 years, their rivalry was as fierce as ever.
The overall sales estimate for the show f $36.6 billion f is expected to double its airline fleet over the next 20 years.
"Just one day's sales at the 2000 show has equaled all the sales in 1996 put together," said a spokesman for what is one of the world's biggest air shows, reflecting on Monday's bumper orders.
"We are 15 percent bigger than we were at the last show in 1998 with more than 1,000 exhibitors from 25 countries."
For Airbus and Boeing, this is a crucial marketplace. Every order that has taken months of elaborate negotiations to secure is presentedwith much fanfare.
Airbus, determined to topple Boeing from its top spot, said the top U.S. leasing firm ILFC, intended to buy 87 of its planes, including five of its proposed A3XX superjumbos.
The revolutionary A3XX double-decker was also given a strong vote of confidence by ILFC chief executive officer Steve Hazy: "We believe it will become the flagship of the 21st century," he told reporters at the show.
Meanwhile, European short-haul airline British Midland is also to inaugurate a long-haul service with an order for Airbus A330-200s, and Finnair said it had agreed to buy six narrowbody A320s.
On the show's opening day Monday, Air France and Dubai's Emirates airline both put in the first launch orders for the new Airbus superjumbos, for a total of 17 aircraft.
But as the sales bonanza gathered pace, Boeing was not to be outdone.
After its Airbus superjumbo purchases, Emirates also announced that it would be taking six Boeing 777-300 wide-bodied planes in a $1 billion deal.
That followed its first day announcement that two leading aircraft leasing companies are taking a mix of 18 longer-range 777s.
"We are doing great," said Boeing's chief financial officer Mike Sears after the U.S. giant's share price hit a one-year high.
In 1999, Boeing delivered a record 620 airplanes but posted slim profits on the sales. Now they are trying to squeeze out more profits in a cut-throat market.
"It is still tough because the competition is tough," Sears said.
Boeing insists Airbus has overestimated the demand for a superjumbo jet, arguing there is a market for only 500 of them in the next 20 years. Airbus, on the other hand, says there is a market for 1,500.
Boeing is also casting a wary eye over the Airbus books, arguing that any European government loans for the A3XX must be made on commercial terms and be fully repaid. Otherwise it will challenge the aid in the World Trade Organization.
However, with nine other airlines also expressing interest in the superjumbo, Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard is convinced that the Europeans have got their forecasts right for the plane that should take to the skies in 2006.
"This will show our competition, Boeing, which was so vocal in claiming there was no market for such an aircraft," he said.