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Boeing strikes $525m deal

Boeing sees its Sonic Cruiser as the plane of the future  

LE BOURGET, France -- U.S. aircraft giant Boeing has made its first sale at the Paris air show.

The company announced a deal -- estimated at $525 million -- with Japan Airlines for three Boeing 777 planes, due to arrive between 2003 and 2006.

The air show has been dominated by the transatlantic rivalry between Boeing and its European counterpart Airbus, which has been inundated with orders in the last few days. But Seddik Belyamani, executive vice president for sales at Boeing, said the Seattle-based giant was still the market leader when it came to delivering planes to their buyers.

"Ultimately, the story is in deliveries rather than orders. They represent completed transactions. Market leadership comes down to who is getting airplanes out the door and into the sky," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Belyamani said Boeing delivers more than 60 percent of the aircraft in the market, with 489 last year compared to 311 for Airbus, and expects to deliver a total of 530 this year.

"Our competitor has been talking about reaching 50 percent market share. How is it that we continue to deliver 61 percent of airplanes?" he added.

The new 777s can seat up to 328 passengers and are to replace the fleet of 15 DC-10 aircraft that Japan Airlines currently operates.

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Larry Dickenson, a senior vice president for sales at Boeing, said in a statement: "Japan Airlines' continued selection of the 777 200ER for long-range operations is a testament to their commitment to excellence."

Wednesday also heralded more deals for Airbus, who announced that Brazilian aniline Tam was to buy 20 A318 aircraft, in a deal valued between $716 and $770 million, said the Associated Press.

TAM is Airbus' largest single customer in Latin America and is to run the 120-seat planes on domestic routes in Brazil.

Rolim Amaro, president and chairman of the TAM Group, told the news agency: "With the A318, A319 and A320 in its domestic fleet, TAM is well set to fulfill its ambition of becoming the unchallenged No. 1 on the Brazilian domestic market with more than 50 percent of the market."

Last year, Boeing entered 611 orders against 520 for Airbus. So far this year, Boeing has booked 124 orders, compared Airbus' 319. Boeing says it expects about 400 orders for passenger jets, while Airbus forecasts a total of 350 to 400.

Both companies have been touting very different visions of future air travel.

Belyamani pushed the case for Boeing's planned Sonic Cruiser, able to carry 150 to 300 passengers at just under the speed of sound with a range of 9,000 nautical miles.

Airbus is betting on economy rather than velocity  

"This added speed will give airlines what they want, a competitive advantage. We've had tremendous reaction from airlines we have talked to," he said.

Company officials have acknowledged the technology behind the plane is still being developed.

Airbus is betting on size, not speed, for the future, with the launch of its double-decker super-jumbo -- the A380 -- able to hold up to 650 passengers but fly no faster than present commercial aircraft.

If the plans are realized, the giant aircraft will surpass Boeing's 747 as the world's largest passenger plane.

• Jane's at Paris Airshow 2001
• Paris Airshow
• The Boeing Company
• Airbus Industries

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