Air Transport World

Preoccupied in Paris

Arthur Reed

PARIS - When the global aerospace community gathers at Le Bourget June 14-22 for the 42d Paris air show, talk no doubt will move quickly to the implications of the long-term, single-source aircraft orders placed recently by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways, as well as the likelihood of a launch of the Airbus Industrie A3XX (ATW, 4/97).

Observers also may ponder Boeing's decision not to proceed on its own superjumbo and speculate as to whether the company simply is jockeying to be in a position to launch-after Airbus, as it did with the 777, which followed the A330/340. The ongoing restructuring of the European consortium certainly will be on many minds, as well.

But Boeing's pending purchase of McDonnell Douglas is what should command most attention, given that its impact will be felt far beyond Seattle and Long Beach, as well as outside the air-transport sector. In that part of the world where airlines remain primarily organs of the state - the Middle East and Asia/Pacific regions, for example - a merged Boeing/McDonnell Douglas may enjoy a competitive advantage through its ability to offer both civil and military aircraft, with 'one-stop shopping' and 'package pricing.'

That is not the only way in which the European aerospace community will find itself threatened by the new Goliath. Already, officials from Airbus partner companies complain that Boeing is applying pressure to potential A3XX partners to keep them off that program, in effect threatening that collaboration with Airbus will result in a reduction or elimination of any business with Boeing.

With Airbus eager to outsource 40% of the program, any backing off of potential investors is cause for concern.

Not surprisingly, the EU Commission has injected itself into the issue by begining a review of the merger and its implications on European business. …

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