Boeing Wins Two Big Orders

By Agence France-Presse Aerospace giant Boeing Co. scored points July 1 against European arch-rival Airbus with a major order from U.S. discount airline AirTran Airways a day after another from Japan's All Nippon Airways. AirTran said it had placed a firm order for 50 new Boeing 737 aircraft with an option for 50 more. It placed an additional order for up to 10 Boeing 717 aircraft. The deal, for which Boeing and Airbus had competed fiercely, could be worth up to $6 billion based on list prices, although these prices are often discounted. On Monday, Japan's No. 2 carrier, All Nippon Airways (ANA), said it has ordered 45 next-generation 737s. This is significant for Boeing, because ANA will use the new jets to replace some of its Airbus A-320 planes. At the Paris Air Show last month, Airbus announced a series of headline-grabbing large commercial jet orders, upstaging Boeing. Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said the AirTran deal was not ready then and the company did not want to rush it expressly for the show. Nonetheless, analysts said the troubles are not over for aircraft makers like Chicago-based Boeing, which are still feeling the pain of the slump in air travel. "This is a plus. This will help the production rate of the 737 go up, but the situation of 747 and 757 and 767 is still difficult and their production will be down next year," said analyst Cai Von Rumohr at SG Cowen Securities. The AirTran deal will be a combination lease-purchase agreement. The airline will purchase some Boeing 737 aircraft from Boeing and will lease some 737 aircraft from GECAS, General Electric Co.'s aviation leasing company. The Boeing-Airbus rivalry is likely to heat up further in coming years as the European group readies its new A-380 jumbo jet that could take market share from Boeing's 747. Airbus is owned jointly by EADS NV and BAE Systems PLC. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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