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Boeing in comeback with launch of new Dreamliner

Update: June, 19/2013 - 11:33

LE BOURGET, France – Boeing launched the biggest version of its Dreamliner plane at the Paris Air Show Tuesday with over 100 orders worth about $30 billion and a clear message – after a run of technical blows, the US firm is back on track.

The announcement failed to steal a march on arch-rival Airbus on the second day of the show with the European plane maker soaring ahead on new plane orders or agreements worth US$36 billion compared to $26.2 billion for the US firm.

Smaller regional plane makers such as European manufacturer ATR also made their presence felt with multi-billion-dollar contracts propelled by demand and opportunities in Asia and South America.

"Boeing today officially launches the 787-10," Boeing head Jim McNerney told reporters, with commitments to buy the new aircraft from United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, and leasing firms ALC and GECAS.

Boeing did not say how much the deals for the 787-10 – the biggest of the three fuel-efficient Dreamliner planes – were worth, but each aircraft costs $290 million at catalogue prices.

That would mean the contracts were worth $29.6 billion, although hard negotiation in the airline industry usually results in big discounts from list prices.

ALC also said it would buy three 787-9 planes and Korean Air ordered 11 long-haul aircraft.

The announcements put Boeing firmly back in the running after a slew of recent technical problems forced the grounding of the entire Dreamliner fleet worldwide for three months in a huge blow to the US firm – and its bosses.

"If I took off my shirt you'd see a lot of scars from the 787," Patrick Shanahan, general manager of airplane programmes, said recently in Seattle where Boeing factories are based.

Ray Conner, head of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, told reporters earlier this week that executives at the firm were "battle-tested" after the experience.

In just over four years, Boeing should have all three versions of the Dreamliner on the market and possibly two newer versions of the 777, against just three types of A350, Airbus's direct competitor.

Undeterred, the European plane maker got off to a roaring start at the air show – though most of its orders so far arise from the medium-haul market, which it already dominates. – afp

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