Airbus shares $3bn Philippine order

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The Independent Online
RUSSELL HOTTEN

Airbus, the four-nation aircraft consortium that includes British Aerospace, has won the lion's share of a $3bn (pounds 2bn) order from Philippine Airlines. The order for 32 aircraft is shared with Boeing, which last month scooped a $12bn contract from Singapore Airlines.

The Philippine order goes some way to ease the deep disappointment of losing the Singapore business and comes at the end of a difficult year in which Airbus lost several important tenders. Boeing is currently favourite to win the bulk of a huge order to be announced soon from Malaysian Airlines.

Philippine Airlines is buying eight Boeing 747-400s, and 24 aircraft from Airbus: four A340 four-engine long-range types, eight twin-engine A330s and 12 of the A320 mid-range aircraft. An A340 is worth about $120m, an A330 some $110m, and the A320 about $50m. A Boeing 747-400 sells for about $150m.

Civil aviation is emerging from recession, with the Far East market growing fastest, but large orders are scarce and closely fought. Yesterday's announcement was a blow to America's McDonnell Douglas, which desperately needs orders for its MD-80 aircraft.

The Philippine order is for delivery over the next three years, and will provide much-needed work for the Airbus consortium, which is made up of France's Aerospatiale, Germany's Daimler-Benz Aerospace, CASA of Spain and British Aerospace. Aerospatiale and Daimler-Benz own 38 per cent each, BAe has 20 per cent and CASA 4 per cent.

Airbus and Boeing are fighting it out for an order from Malaysian Airlines, which is expected to make an announcement on a 10bn ringgit (pounds 2.5bn) purchase in early January.

Newspapers in Malaysia have reported that Boeing will clinch more than half the order for 25 new long- and medium-range aircraft, with Airbus the remainder. McDonnell Douglas was said to be out of the running.

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