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Fri, May 18, 2007

Boeing, Airbus Await Word On US Airways Order

Announcement Expected In Paris Next Month

A vigil of sorts is underway in the commercial aircraft industry, as rivals Boeing and Airbus await an announcement by US Airways of who will get an order for as many as 90 new widebody jets.

US Airways Senior VP of Planning Andrew Nocella added to the intrigue, in a recent interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

"The analysis continues," Nocella said. "It has turned out to be far more complicated than we had thought going into this."

Airbus desperately needs some good news to rally shareholders and employees, and is thought to be the favorite to get an order for the A350 WXB. But it may also have to make deep concessions to hold the order, after a scrapping of the plane's original design has put it years behind the competition from Boeing.

"The Dreamliner is a plane we can see and touch very, very soon," Nocella said. "The A350 is a fresh design that will have a few advantages because of the five years of extra development time."

Adding to the speculation is the carrier's past history with Airbus. As Aero-News reported, Airbus provided some $250 million in financing for US Airways' 2005 acquisition by America West. Shortly after the funding was announced, US Airways announced a 20-plane order for the original, non-XWB A350.

The purchase is thought to be an influential one within the industry. Nocella says US Airways won't announce its decision until the paperwork is complete, but hopes that will happen by the Paris airshow in mid-June.

FMI: www.usairways.com, www.boeing.com, www.airbus.com

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