Boeing's top commercial airplanes executive on Tuesday dismissed a $45 billion order blitz unveiled by rival Airbus as the Paris air show awaited a potential $8 billion order for the Boeing 787.
European planemaker Airbus hit the ground running at the start of the week long Le Bourget air show with firm orders for 219 planes including more than 114 of its revamped A350 model, which still remains far behind sales of the 787.
Boeing often accuses Airbus of storing up orders to gain publicity at air shows and of confusing the real picture by mixing up firm and provisional orders. Airbus says its announcements schedule is in the hands of its customers.
Just what we expected, the head of Boeing's commercial airplane unit Scott Carson told Reuters, asked about the deals from the temporary Airbus base opposite Boeing at Le Bourget.
Airbus's record haul of 339 plane orders or commitments on Monday, exceeding an air show peak seen in 2005, includes 219 firm orders and 120 provisional ones worth a total $45.7 billion at list prices, the European firm said on Monday.
Airbus is battling to close the gap on Boeing after initially misjudging demand for twin-jet airliners like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is due to enter service next year and has already attracted customers for almost 600 jets.
In a further boost for Boeing, two industry executives said the U.S. planemaker would announce an order for 50 787 Dreamliners from U.S. leasing giant ILFC on Tuesday.
The support of major leasing companies who are among the world's largest plane buyers is seen as a gauge of a model's long-term success. ILFC has been particularly critical of the A350 and is questioning Airbus planned production methods.
Emirates Airlines chief Tim Clark, who plans to order up to 100 planes in the mid-sized category seating around 250-300 passengers, sprang to the defense of the Airbus model at the air show on Monday and said it was comparable to the 787.
Boeing appeared to view that as routine negotiating tactics as airlines press Boeing to get the best deal on the Boeing 787, with Carson joking, That's also what I'd have expected.
Carson said Boeing was talking to Clark and other airline industry leaders about a stretched version of the 787 known as the 787-10 and would make a decision when the time was right.
Many airlines want Boeing to add to its 210-290 seat 787-8 and 787-9 pair of aircraft with a model for 300-seats-plus.
Airbus is offering 270-350 seats in its A350 family which includes three versions, the top one being mainly a challenger to the older wide-body Boeing 777.
Carson gave a cool reaction to a call last week by Airbus President Louis Gallois for a meeting of the top officials of airframe and engine makers to share thoughts on how to produce cleaner jets to protect the environment in the future.
The appropriate forums for those kinds of discussions already exist, Carson said, referring to airlines lobby the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.