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Airbus Hits Back at Boeing

The fierce rivalry is renewed at the Dubai Air Show.
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Resurgent Airbus is racking up sales at the Dubai Air Show and now says it expects 2007 to be a record year for orders.

The European aircraft manufacturer says it has garnered new orders for more than 200 planes at the air show, which will continue through Thursday.

Underscoring the rising importance of Middle Eastern carriers, the show has joined the Paris and Farnborough, U.K., events as one of the key public forums where Airbus and


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can square off.

Through Sunday, Airbus had 1,122 orders this year, its highest number ever, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy told reporters in Dubai. The previous record year was 2005, with 1,111 orders.

For Airbus, the strong order sheet brings relief from a series of mishaps, including delays in deliveries of both the A350 and the A380, its next generation of wide body jets. Last year, Boeing booked more orders than Airbus for the first time since 2000.

Meanwhile, Boeing announced 100 new orders in Dubai. Before the announcement, Boeing listed 956 confirmed orders this year.

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Dubai "is a terrific air show," said Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx. "The important thing to remember about an air show is that it's just one week. It is our policy not to save orders for air shows. We put them up on our order site as we get them."

Boeing shares were trading Monday at $94.06, down 15 cents. Boeing said last month that delivery of its heavily ordered 787 would be delayed six months until November or December of 2008.

Among the new orders, Dubai-based Emirates Airlines signed a firm pact for 81 Airbus aircraft, including 70 A350s and 11 additional A380s, the biggest order in Airbus history with a list price value of more than $20 billion.

The orders are "aligned to Dubai's aim to attract 15 million visitors a year by 2012," said CEO Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, in a prepared statement.

Dubai leasing firm DAE Capital signed a letter of intent to buy 100 Airbus aircraft, including 70 A320 family jets and 30 A350s, as well as 100 aircraft from Boeing, 30 of which will be wide bodies. The list value of each order is about $13.5 billion.

Also, Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier based in the United Arab Emirates, signed a firm contract for 34 A320 aircraft and options for 15 more. The agreement means the airline will more than triple the size of its fleet.

Saudi Arabian Airlines signed a letter of intent for 22 A320s, with an option for eight more, its first Airbus order since 1981.

Boeing announced that Royal Jordanian Airlines confirmed earlier orders for two 787s. It also disclosed that it won orders from Dubai-based leasing company LCAL for six 787s and from Qatar Airways for 30 787s, in deals previously attributed to unidentified customers on its Web site. The 787's list price is about $160 million.

Meanwhile, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal became the first individual to buy an A380 "flying palace" for personal use.