Thurs "The Australian"
Huge Airbus order stuns Boeing
From The Times
July 22, 2004
AIRBUS, the European aircraft maker, has shown rival Boeing a clean pair of heels by announcing a massive $US7 billion ($9.6 billion) order from one of the world's fastest growing airlines.
Airbus said it would sell 24 aircraft, including four A380s, to Etihad Airways, an airline based in Abu Dhabi that made its first commercial flight only eight months ago.
Etihad's decision to buy Airbus rather than Boeing underlines the growing advantage Airbus has established over its US rival. Earlier this week Airbus said it would increase production by 50percent from just over 300 aircraft a year to 450 a year by 2006.
By contrast, Boeing expects to produce only 285 aircraft this year and the same number in 2005.
Airbus's production increase had taken industry experts at Farnborough Air Show by surprise, but the deal with Etihad goes some way to explaining its bullishness.
Airbus president and chief executive Noel Forgeard said the European group would deliver one or two aircraft a month to Etihad between January 2006 and the end of 2007. The airline has options to buy a further 12 aircraft on top of the 24 firm orders that were announced yesterday.
Dr Ahmed Bin Saif al Nahyan, of Etihad, said: "We have been in discussions for over a year now with both Boeing and Airbus."
He said the main reason for choosing Airbus over Boeing was that it offered a package of training and maintenance.
That was important because of the airline's rapid expansion, he said. Etihad, launched in November 2003, is owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.