updated 6/14/2005 7:30:39 PM ET 2005-06-14T23:30:39

Boeing and Airbus both announced new plane sales Tuesday at the Paris Air Show — a platform, more than ever, for their closely fought trans-Atlantic rivalry.

Indian carrier Jet Airways agreed to buy 10 Boeing 777s and 10 737s — together worth $2.8 billion at list price — as well as 10 Airbus A330 planes with a sticker value of $1.6 billion. Boeing Co. said GE Commercial Aviation Services, a plane leasing company, had ordered 20 737s worth $1.1 billion on paper. None of the actual transaction values were disclosed.

Boeing also announced an order from International Lease Finance Corp. for 20 next-generation 737s and eight 777s — together worth almost $2.9 billion at list prices. Another leasing company, Kuwait-based ALAFCO, signed up for 12 units of the planned Airbus A350, the main rival to Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner,” in a deal worth about $1.9 billion at list price.

The ALAFCO deal takes to 102 the number of nonbinding A350 orders on Airbus’ books. Airbus CEO Noel Forgeard said he hopes that total will rise to between 110 and 120 planes during the week. Of those, up to 90 would have been announced at the show — still short of the 100-plus orders that chief Airbus salesman John Leahy had promised to unveil.

Dubai-based carrier Emirates, which had been expected to announce plans to buy 50 of the planes, said Friday it was putting off any decision.

Airbus has been under growing pressure amid a slew of recent 787 sales that takes that plane’s total to 128 firm orders and 138 nonbinding commitments.

Unlike the A350, which is derived from the A330, the 787 is an all-new design set to enter service in 2008, two years ahead of the Airbus. Analysts say the Dreamliner’s buoyant sales and its two-year lead on its rival could make it hard for Airbus to keep up with Boeing deliveries in 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, however, Forgeard is predicting strong growth in overall Airbus deliveries — upgrading his 2005 forecast Tuesday to “at least 360” planes from the earlier 350-360 target and promising to “pass the 400 point next year.”

Last year, Airbus delivered 320 planes and Boeing delivered 285 — lagging its France-based rival for the second straight year.

Forgeard had said Monday that he already had “more than enough” A350 orders to launch the plane. But Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. last week said it planned to give the launch go-ahead by September — instead of this week, as many had expected. Emirates announced its decision to hold back two days later.

Airbus conceded for the first time Tuesday that the three-month delay in the A350’s industrial launch — a commitment to airlines to supply the plane — was the result of a U.S. challenge to Airbus subsidies filed last month at the World Trade Organization.

“If we confirm the launch only in September it’s because we want to give the maximum time to a negotiated solution,” Forgeard said.

Europe’s handling of the trade row is also complicated by a Franco-German dispute at the heart of EADS, which owns 80 percent of Airbus, provoked in part by Forgeard’s proposal to exercise greater control over units including Airbus when he takes over as EADS joint-CEO alongside German Tom Enders.

Forgeard firmly denied reports that he had initially sought to take up the new EADS job while also remaining head of Airbus.

“I never had an idea to (combine) the leadership of EADS and Airbus,” he said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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