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Troubled Airbus touts raft of orders for A350 jet

June 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

LE BOURGET, FRANCE — Airbus racked up more orders for its A350 XWB aircraft on Wednesday, a day after U.S. rival Boeing Co. snagged the troubled jet's original launch customer for its own 787 Dreamliner.

In announcements at the weeklong Paris Air Show, Airbus said it had landed orders for 166 aircraft Wednesday, bringing its haul for the first three days of the event to 548, worth $75.7 billion.

Russian airline Aeroflot signed a firm deal for 22 of the revamped A350 aircraft, and Airbus received commitments from India's Kingfisher Airlines and Libya's Afriqiyah Airways for 56.

The deals agreed to Wednesday took the total of firm orders for the plane to 134. However, that is still far behind the 634 orders for Boeing's Dreamliner.

Airbus has been fighting an uphill battle against the Dreamliner since it was forced into an expensive redesign of the A350 by unhappy customers -- resulting in the extra-wide-body, or XWB, model.

The most vocal of the critics of the original Airbus design was Stephen Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Los Angeles-based International Lease Finance Corp., the launch customer for the A350 -- which on Tuesday signed a deal with Boeing for 50 more Dreamliners.

ILFC originally ordered 16 A350s, but those are on hold following the redesign.

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