As Boeing clinched the $1.5 billion deal to sell five of its 747-8 aircraft to China's national carrier Air China, arch rival Airbus has not been the most gracious of losers.

According to a report in the Financial Times, chief operating officer for customers at the European aircraft manufacturer, John Leahy, has attributed the loss of the deal to pressure from the U.S. government which he feels has considerably influenced the final award. The senior executive even claimed cognizance of the fact that the matter had been under discussion when the presidents of the two nations met in January.

White House officials have, however, trashed the accusations saying that the contract had never been raised at the Obama- Hu Jintao meet and the administration had no prior intimation of the order. The authorities have also expressed surprised over such an allegation since Chinese airlines have, in the past, consistently awarded deals to both Airbus and Boeing.

Boeing has declined to comment on Leahy's reaction but has clarified that it had been working with Air China on an analysis of the 747-8 Intercontinental's performance and how it would meet the national carrier's needs. FT quotes the company as saying, Air China decided the 747-8 is the right aeroplane at this time for its long-haul needs.

Airbus has meanwhile announced a big order from leading aircraft lessor International Lease Finance Corporation, but Leahy admitted that Airbus was looking to sell its A380 jets to Air China and was disappointed at having lost out in the deal.