Airbus superjumbo jets, US engine makers GE and Pratt & Whitney beat British competitor Rolls-Royce yesterday by signing a US$1.5 billion deal with the Middle East carrier Emirates.
The GE-P&W Engine Alliance will build engines for the 22 A380-800 aircraft Emirates is buying, and it will sell more if Emirates chooses to purchase 10 on which it has options, executives said at the Asian Aerospace 2002 show.
GE-P&W also has a deal with Air France, but Rolls-Royce is selling engines for A380 jets being bought by Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.
That puts the rivalry at about 50-50 -- with decisions still pending from carriers including Germany's Lufthansa and Federal Express, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aircraft Engines.
"Naturally, we're disappointed, but it was a hard-fought battle," Rolls-Royce spokesman Martin Brodie said. "This is still the early stages of the A380 program -- it's going to be half and half for ages. We're still in a strong position."
The chairman of Dubai-based Emirates, Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and GE-P&W Engine Alliance President Lloyd Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday for the engine purchase.
"This has been a tough decision, but we are happy we will now have the best American and European technology for our Airbus superjumbos," the sheik told a news conference. Fast-growing Emirates plans to use the double-decker four-engine jets on nonstop routes such as Dubai-New York, he said.
There have been few deals announced at Asia's top air show running this week in Singapore, as the commercial aviation industry is still struggling to bounce back from the crisis it was thrown into by the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and the engine deal set off a bit of a buzz.
Airlines have slashed tens of thousands of jobs and cut back on routes and many are losing millions of dollars, but some executives here are cautiously saying they see steady if slow signs of recovery.
The GE-P&W Engine Alliance will win the Federal Express contract for engines to power 10 airplanes, according to an industry executive who told
The Associated Press on Thursday that the deal has been done but not announced. The executive spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Spokesmen for GE-P&W and Rolls-Royce said they had no information on who would prevail.
The Airbus superjumbos will have more than 500 seats, becoming the biggest passenger planes in the sky when they start flying in 2006.