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Airbus hopes to hit 850 orders in ?08, A380 targets won’t be met

Airbus hopes to hit 850 orders in æ08, A380 targets won’t be met

Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy said he expects his company to take orders for roughly 850 planes in 2008, despite a drop in sales over the summer as the price of crude oil peaked.

   “Now, with fuel going back to the $80 range, they’re starting to come out of their bunkers and look around,” Leahy told the Wall Street Journal last week during a ceremony unveiling an A380 for Qantas.

   The manufacturer took orders for 754 planes through the first eight months of the year, but Leahy admitted, “There isn’t a lot of new activity right now,” with many airlines blaming the price of fuel for moribund results through much of 2008.

   As of mid-July, Airbus had taken 730 orders, the International Herald Tribune reported, showing how slow orders have been in the following two months. In that report, Leahy admitted he saw a definite softening of demand in the second half of the year. He said the only factor that could drive orders was activity from leasing companies, who continued to place orders for planes to be leased to airlines.

   In another interview, this one with Aviation Week, Leahy said Airbus would likely fall short on its order target for A380s in 2008. Only Korean Airlines has placed orders for three of the mega-jumbo jets, Aviation Week reported Friday, with Leahy saying “everything froze” when financial markets became unsettled this month.

   The original target for A380 orders this year was 30, though that was revised down to 20, and Leahy admitted that likely won’t be met. But the company has received more than 500 orders for A350s in 2008.

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