4:03 PM

Udvar-Hazy throws
down some serious
coin in Paris


Not since Ali vs. Frazier (was that the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla' in Manila?) has the world seen the slugfest going on at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. I have been following the headlines on and off today, and it looks like both Airbus and Boeing's media people are working overtime trying to “one-up” each other and get their news out on the wires first.

In ROUND ONE this morning, Airbus slipped one through Boeing's gloves and landed one right in the kisser:

European plane maker Airbus received 339 orders and intentions of purchase, including 219 firm orders, during the first day of the 47th edition of the Paris Air Sow, John Leahy, Airbus commercial director said yesterday. During a press briefing, Leahy said the 339 orders and intentions of purchase had a total catalogue value of US$45.7 billion.
Stunned, Boeing stumbled into their corner of the ring. The media began chanting “kill, kill, kill” and ran headlines that suggested Airbus was going to smack down Boeing throughout the show. In ROUND TWO, the headlines suggested that the Airbus whipping was getting worse:
European plane maker Airbus said on Tuesday that it had received an order from an unnamed buyer who intends to use the company's A380 superjumbo, the biggest airliner in the world, as a private jet for the owner and his entourage. The maker would not reveal the buyer's name, saying only "[we] can't tell you who it is but he's not from Europe or the United States."
In ROUND THREE, the media continued their onslaught, reporting as if Boeing could not fight through Airbus selling one giant bizjet. As if they were trying to make up anything to keep Airbus on top in the headline battle, the following was released on multiple sites:
EADS unit Airbus will likely try again to launch a cargo version of its A380 super-jumbo jet in the middle of the next decade, chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said at the Paris Air Show.
Sure, by the end of the second day of the show, the world was reading that Boeing had been knocked around pretty good. Airbus no doubt was strutting around the ring, chest puffed out, cocky as a cagefighter. But while Airbus was flirting with the ring girls, they didn't see the haymaker that was about to be delivered by Boeing:
Boeing Co. scored a major coup Tuesday, announcing that the original launch customer for its rival Airbus’ planned A350 had signed up for another 50 of its own flagship 787 Dreamliners. Stephen Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Los Angeles-based International Lease Finance Corp., the world’s largest airline leasing company, had originally ordered 16 A350s. The ILFC buy brings the 787 book to over 600 firm orders so far, easily outstripping those for the A350 at just over 100. Now, the Dreamliner is said to be sold out through 2013.
Outside the Boeing “booth”, Udvar-Hazy indicated there was more where that came from. “The momentum is strong,” he said, “you’ll be hearing more announcements in the months to come.” But the media wasn't quite through, and released this in ROUND FOUR:
Meanwhile, Airbus, the commercial jet unit of European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., said Emirates airline is ordering eight additional A380 double-decker aircraft in a deal estimated at about $2.5 billion. The latest order brings to 55 the number of A380s ordered by the Dubai-based carrier.
This slugfest started yesterday, and concludes next Sunday, the 24th. If these first two days are any indication, the remainder of the Paris Show will be more of the same. I predict that when the final sales numbers are released, it will be Boeing standing over Airbus in the center of the ring, with the referee counting down towards 10. At about the 8 count, Airbus will stumble to their feet, and with the one eye that's not swollen shut, will stare down Boeing before stumbling on wobbly feet to the locker room, battered, bruised, defeated...for the time being. But there will be no knockout, and Airbus – still breathing and revived with new orders – will live to fight again at Le Bourget two years from now.

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