El Al Decision Could Be Pivotal In Boeing, Airbus Industrie Rivalry

Philip Condit, Boeing Co.'s chief executive, has personally entered a battle against the company's European rival Airbus Industrie over a $400 million contract with Israel's flagship airline El Al. The Israelis will decide this week which company is to supply new long-range, mid-sized aircraft. The contract is small by aircraft industry standards, but it is vital for both the American and European plane makers. For Airbus it would be a first entry into the El Al fleet. For Boeing it is a fight to preserve its exclusive position as supplier to El Al. The Seattle-based Boeing also wants to consolidate its links with the Israeli Air Force after recently losing a $2.5 billion order for fighter jets that was won by Lockheed Martin. To press the Boeing case chief executive Condit has gone to see Joel Feldschuh, El Al's president. After the meeting he stressed Boeing's "long term partnership" with Israeli industry. Boeing is offering three 77-200 wide bodies, and Airbus two A-330s and two A-340s.

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