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Airbus 'jumbo' rival gains support

British, French and German ministers have given informal backing for Airbus Industrie to build a new large passenger aircraft to top the Boeing "jumbo", France's transport minister said yesterday, writes Russell Hotten. Bernard Pons said transport ministers had agreed with the three Airbus partners, including British Aerospace, at London talks last week to study the "3XX" plane, which would seat 500-600 and fly London-Sydney non-stop.

BAe's chief executive Dick Evans, and officials from Rolls-Royce and other engine makers were said to be at the meeting to discuss the feasibility and huge financial cost of the project. Airbus has said it urgently needs a large plane that would fill a gap in the large-capacity market to beat the US manufacturer. Mr Pons said he thought a second-generation Concorde would only come after Airbus had a large aircraft.