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Boeing and Airbus battle heats up in Paris

We are just over halfway through the storm-soaked, high-humidity, sweating-like-a-pig experience that is the Paris Air Show 2013, and the two key players in the biennial drama have got all their guns blazing.

Mindful of the trouncing it received from its rival in 2011, Boeing has sprayed out a whole series of announcements using some kind of PR Uzi. Making the most of both new and previously acknowledged agreements, the airframer has celebrated orders for: the 737MAX from Skymark Airlines and CIT; the Dreamliner from GECAS and ALC; the 777-300ER from Qatar Airways and Korean Air (which also ordered 747-8s); and 737 family aircraft from Ryanair and Oman Air.

The US manufacturer also dropped a few bombs with key strategic decisions confirming the launch of the 787-10 and accelerating first delivery of the 737MAX. As a bit of news shrapnel between the orders and the production announcements, Boeing has additionally popped out some generic statements about how its product line-up (“much broader than the competition”) positions the company for future growth and how its twin-aisle family provides “unprecedented” value and flexibility.

Counter manoeuvring, Airbus has hit the mark in both the narrowbody and widebody market, with new (and, again, some recycled) orders for: the A320 family from Lufthansa, ILFC, easyJet and Syphax Airlines; the A350 XWB from Air France-KLM and Sri Lankan Airlines (which has also committed to six A330s); and an MoU with Doric Lease Corp for the A380.

The European airframer also fired a few shots in the air with milestone deliveries for LATAM (the airline’s 200th A320 family aircraft) and Comlux (the first ever ACJ321) as well as blowing out a bit of puff about Sharklets, the A380, a student competition and how great Airbus’ suppliers are.

As we head towards the second half of the show (when newcomers to aviation’s Vietnam keel over and veterans hole up in the nearest chalet), the industry watches and waits to see which airframer brought the most ammo, which can reload the fastest – and which has secret weapons in a crate marked “X”.

Will the A320neo outgun the 737MAX? Will the 787 rise from the dust of its disastrous start to the year? And will Airbus’ latest and supposedly greatest creation, the A350, swoop in at the last minute to steal the show?

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