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Paris air show takes to skies

June 17, 2013

The world's largest aviation show has kicked off in Paris, with the Le Bourget event expected to fuel rivalry between Europe's Airbus and Boeing from the US. Both seek to dominate the long-haul jet sector.

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner is tolled to the static display area at Le Bourget airport near Paris REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Image: Reuters

It's the 50th edition of the Le Bourget air show in France, which alternates with Farnborough in Britain. The Paris event is expected to attract some 350,000 visitors who are bound to notice that fierce competition between Airbus and Boeing is reaching a new peak.

Both companies are battling for orders in the lucrative market for wide-body planes which dominate the air show. European plane maker Airbus last week celebrated the successful maiden flight of its long-haul and fuel-efficient A350 and is already speaking of hundreds of orders from Qatar Airways, British Airways and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific.

But its US rival Boeing has also entered the show in bullish mood as it tries to leave behind its difficulties with the trouble-prone 787 Dreamliner. The company is expected to announce the launch of its 787-10X, a longer version than its predecessor.

Airbus A-350 completes maiden flight

Little left to others?

"It's going to be a great competition as airlines will benefit from the fact that both companies are going to have a good wide-body product line," Boeing commercial airplanes chief Ray Conner told reporters.

It remains to be seen whether rivals Bombardier from Canada and Brazil's Embraer will have enough trumps up their sleeves at Le Bourget to distract attention away from the big two in the market.

The military side of the aerospace show appears much quieter in comparison to previous events. Budget cuts in the US for instance prevented the US Administration from bringing the F-16 jets to Paris. In focus will be the market in unmanned surveillance drones after three European defense companies urged the creation of a European program to manufacture them as they're currently only available from Israel and the US.

The first four days of the Paris air show are reserved for professionals, the show opens its doors open to the public on June 21 through June 23.

hg/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)