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Airbus lengthens lead over Boeing at air show
Updated: 2004-07-22 08:51

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus lengthened its lead over US rival Boeing at the Farnborough International air show, announcing deals for 40 planes from Turkish and Indian carriers compared with 15 for Boeing.

The European consortium said it had signed protocol accords with Turkish Airlines for 36 planes, worth three billion dollars, and with Indian low-cost carrier Kingfisher for four aircraft, valued at 240 million dollars.

Boeing officials meanwhile said the group had signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Airlines for 15 planes.

Front view of the Airbus stand at Farnborough Airshow. The European aircraft manufacturer lengthened its lead over US rival Boeing announcing deals for 40 planes from Turkish and Indian carriers.  [AFP/File]
The Turkish deals were first disclosed by the country's Anatolia news agency, which said Turkish Airlines (THY) had told the national stock exchange in a statement it would buy five Airbus A330/200 planes to provide long-range service.

The carrier also intended to purchase 12 mid-range A321/200s and 19 A320/200s, the airline's statement said.

From Boeing, THY planned to buy 15 mid-range B737/800s, it added.

The transactions were confirmed here by spokesmen for Airbus and Boeing.

"Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Airlines for the purchase of five A330/200s, 12 A321s and 19 A320s," spokesman Philippe Delmas said, adding the deal could be worth more than three billion dollars to the company.

Airbus chairman Noel Forgeard and Turkish Airlines head Candan Karlitekin later inked the deal in Paris in the presence of French President Jacques Chirac and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was on the last day of his three-day visit there.

Boeing confirmed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Airlines for the purchase of 15 737-800 planes which have an aggregate catalogue price of 900 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Airbus has also signed a memorandum with Kingfisher of India for the purchase of four single-aisle A320s, as well as an option on eight more, Airbus marketing chief John Leahy said.

The announcements gave Airbus a significant edge over Boeing at the Farnborough show, coming after a 36-plane deal disclosed Tuesday worth seven billion dollars from Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways.

The United Arab Emirates national carrier said it planned to order 24 Airbus aircraft, including four of the superjumbo A380 models, and would take options on a further 12. Without the options the transaction has a list price of 4.5 billion dollars.

The deal eclipsed one announced by Boeing on Monday with Dubai-based Emirates for four 777-300ERs and options on nine more in a deal worth up to 2.96 billion dollars.

The two aerospace giants have been trading blows at the air show near London, a traditional battleground for aviation companies going head-to-head for orders and publicity.

Airbus currently has the upper hand, with firm expressions of intent to purchase for 64 planes to 19 for its US rival.

The purchasing plans announced by Turkish Airlines are part of the largely state-owned carrier's efforts to renew its aging fleet, which currently totals 65 planes.

THY spokesman Recep Duvelioglu said that in addition to the purchases, the company would terminate the contracts of some of its leased aircraft and lease other planes.

"We are planning to increase our fleet up to 100 planes by the end of 2005," he told AFP.

The airline's announcement came during an official visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to France during which the Airbus deal was discussed.

THY, which is set for large-scale privatization, flew 10.4 million passengers to 103 destinations in 2003, posting a profit of roughly 147 million dollars.

In other news from the show, the French electronics group Thales said it had been chosen by Airbus Military to supply control and display systems as well as other avionics components for the future military transport plane, the A400M.

Airbus chairman Noel Forgeard put the value of the deal at 130 million euros.

He also told reporters Airbus believed it had found another buyer for the superjumbo A380.

"We think we will have another new client for the A380 before the end of the year," he said.

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