June 15, 2005

WITH A THUD:

Airbus thrown off stride by Boeing (Mark Landler and Elizabeth Becker, 6/15/05, The New York Times)

As the A380 traced swooping circles above the airfield on Monday, the Boeing delegation was plainly impressed.

But after it touched down with a thud, the spell was broken. "Look for the dent in the runway," said one of the executives, referring to the A380's chronic weight problems.

Boeing can afford a few wisecracks. After several years in which the company seemed in danger of being flattened by the Airbus juggernaut, it has stormed back into contention. Boeing's new midsized plane, the 787, is selling briskly, while the A380 has been dogged by production glitches.

Airbus says it will announce more than 110 orders this week for the A350, its response to the 787. But that plane, too, is being slowed because of changes in its design and doubts about how it will be financed.

Those questions have been fueled by a lawsuit the United States has filed against the European Union at the World Trade Organization, alleging that Europe has damaged Boeing by illegally financing the development of new planes like the A350 with low-cost government loans.

While the European Union insists it will fight the suit - and has filed one of its own alleging that Boeing also receives improper subsidies - there is mounting evidence that Washington's unbending stance has thrown Airbus off balance in one of the world's epic commercial rivalries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2005 6:52 AM
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