Airbus trounces Boeing with another record order

Airbus chief executive officer Thomas Enders, center, waves his cap as he poses with Air Asia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, second from left

LE BOURGET, France — Airbus is trouncing Boeing in the race to be the world’s biggest planemaker, claiming over $72 billion dollars worth of orders and commitments at the Paris Air Show, where the popularity of its new fuel-efficient jets twice broke records for the largest order ever.

Airbus’ success cast a long shadow over Chicago-based Boeing, which recorded only $22 billion in orders and commitments, and raised questions over the U.S. planemaker’s ability to compete in a market dominated by concerns over high fuel prices.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes signed off Thursday on an $18.5 billion order for 200 of Airbus’ new A320neo aircraft, which has proven to be the star of the aviation industry’s premier event.

The order is the largest ever, eclipsing the previous record set just Wednesday by another A320neo customer, Asian carrier IndiGo. Airlines often negotiate discounts on large deals.

The announcement was made at the Paris Air Show, where Airbus has cashed in on airlines’ desire to reduce sky-high fuel costs and cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

Airbus says the A320neo is 15 percent more fuel efficient than rival aircraft like Boeing’s 737.

The AirAsia deal capped an impressive four days for the European jet maker, which booked orders and commitments for 730 aircraft from 16 customers. Enders left open the possibility that the tally could climb higher before the air show ends on Sunday. “The show’s not over yet,” he said.

Airbus’ success increases the pressure on its U.S. rival to respond to the challenge with either a revamped version of its own 737 or an entirely new aircraft. Boeing says it will make that decision in the coming months, but meanwhile Airbus continues to rack up orders for the A320neo.

Rival Boeing said it recorded orders and committments for 142 aircraft worth $22 billion at catalog prices during the air show. That includes a commitment from an undisclosed customer for it’s hulking new 747-8 Intercontinentals worth $4.7 billion.

Boeing played down the orders rivalry, saying it doesn’t keep deals in reserve just to announce them at air shows.

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