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Airbus Crows Over "Near Record" Order Book

Airbus, aspiring builder of the KC-45 airborne tanker airframe, held an end-of-Farnborough press conference a few minutes ago to announce one of its best results ever in booking orders for commercial airliners at the air show.

The company has firm orders (that's contracts) for roughly $40 billion (book price, which is almost always heavily discounted in the actual contract) for 247 planes, bringing its annual total to 730 planes. The company expects to sign orders for 850 planes for the year. "We may," said CEO Tom Enders, "have to even up that cap." Airbus is, of course, a part of EADS.

Boeing booked 152 deals worth US$16.8 billion at the show. Boeing and Airbus have about the same amount of market share, but the latest air show win must be galling to Boeing, which seems to be struggling on so many fronts especially in the military world.

Coming in to the show expectations were fairly low, as Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy noted during the press conference. The soaring price of jet fuel, tightening credit and the general downturn of the American and European economies had few analysts expecting robust sales. But Etihad, the official airline of the United Arab Emirates, signed papers for 55 planes, including 10 of the giant Airbus 380. And the leasing arm of Dubai Aerospace Enterprises ordered 100 planes. "We think it ended up pretty well," Leahy said, with a just touch of smugness.

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