Mon, Dec 05, 2005
It's Not Over Yet, Folks
The seesaw sales battle
between Europe's Airbus and US-manufacturer Boeing continued Monday
with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao signing a deal to buy 150
Airbus aircraft after a meeting with French Prime Minister
Dominique de Villepin.
The order for 150 medium-range A320-family narrowbodies was
valued at about $10 billion, according to Associate Press reports.
Airbus called it "the largest single order that Airbus has ever
received since it entered the Chinese market two decades ago."
Likely at least as important to Airbus -- although they were
diplomatic enough not to point it out -- is that the order is also
nearly twice the size of Boeing's 70-plane order from Chinese
airlines last month. That deal was worth $4 billion list, although
it is expected both manufacturers significantly discounted planes
in both deals.
The order puts Airbus within 50 aircraft of beating Boeing for
the year-end sales crown, a position previously thought nearly
unachievable just 24 hours ago... with a major Qantas announcement
still expected by the end of the year, that could go either
Boeing's or Airbus's way.
The A319s, A320s and A321s will go to Air China, China Eastern
Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shenzhen
Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
The deal was announced as part of a ceremonial signing in France
of several contracts between Chinese and European companies,
including a joint-development contract between Eurocopter and a
Chinese partner for development of a six-ton helicopter. Wen
is visiting the country, and also toured the Toulouse plant where
Airbus builds the mammoth A380.
Wen also presided over the signing of a cooperation agreement
between the European aerospace consortium and China's National
Development and Reform commission, that could lead to Airbus
opening a Chinese production facility for the A320 family, the
workhorse of Airbus's fleet.
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