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Boeing and Airbus Duel at Annual Paris Air Show


Airbus and Boeing, two of the world's largest commercial aircraft manufacturers, are unveiling new planes this week at the Paris Air show in France. VOA's Chris Simkins reports the two airplane makers are continuing their fiercely competitive battle to be number one in the industry. The focus now is on international travel.

The Airbus A380 is winning high praise at the Paris Air Show. The European-made jet is the largest commercial passenger plane ever. The massive wide-body aircraft can be configured to carry more than 800 passengers. Airbus sees the plane carrying travelers to and from growing markets in Asia and the Middle East.

Airbus has gotten more than 150 orders for the A380 along with dozens of orders for its other passenger jets. The French-based manufacturer hopes the launch of the A380 in late 2006 will enable the company to maintain market share against American plane maker Boeing.

"Since the middle of the 1990s we have risen steadily, and captured market share from 20 percent to now a 50-50 split with Boeing, and that is a position that we are very happy with, and one that our clients are happy with," said Thomas Burger, a Product Marketing Manager for the Airbus A380.

For its part, Boeing is looking for customers at the Paris Air show to buy its new 777-200. The plane is being touted as the world's largest long-range twin-engine jet. Boeing says it will allow airlines to make non-stop flights, such as New York to Singapore and Los Angeles to Dubai. Officials from Jet Airways in India got a tour of the plane after buying six of them at the Paris Air Show.

Boeing is also promoting its new 787 Dreamliner scheduled to be flying in 2008. The company has already taken nearly 300 orders.

Michael Bair, General Manager of the 787 program, says the plane is part of Boeing's strategy to regain its lead over Airbus in the global aircraft manufacturing business.

"The market that we see for this airplane is about 3,500 [planes] over the next 20 years. We have an all-new product, we think we are going to end up with more than 50 percent market share," he said.

Over the next decade, Boeing and Airbus will be in a fiercely competitive battle to build the best passenger planes. The United States and Europe are also involved in a World Trade Organization legal battle. Each side says the other illegally subsidizes its aircraft maker, giving it an unfair advantage.

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