Boeing Gets Blown Sideways

A jumbo Airbus order hurts, but its own plane could take off

Suddenly, competition in the aerospace industry has been turned up a notch. On Sept. 29, Singapore Airlines Ltd., the world's fourth-largest operator of Boeing's 747 jumbo jets, said it would buy up to 25 super-jumbos from Boeing Co.'s European archrival, Airbus Industrie. The $8.6 billion deal wasn't just a blow to the U.S. company's pride: It was a crucial boost to Airbus' audacious plan to challenge Boeing's 30-year jumbo-jet monopoly. With Singapore's orders in hand, Airbus needs to sell only a dozen or so more of the new 600-seat A3XX planes before formally launching production of the aircraft--perhaps before the end of this year. "We are at a turning point," exults Noel Forgeard, chief executive of Airbus.

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