Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Boeing's office in Taipei addresses heated competition

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

Aerospace and defense giant Boeing Co has opened an office in Taipei to fend off strong competition from rival Airbus in the commercial aviation market by bolstering customer ties.

Despite the eagerness of the military to purchase the Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter, spokesman Mark Hooper denied the office would be promoting the weapons platform ahead of a possible decision by the US to sell it to Taiwan.

"Boeing has a long history of working closely with Taiwan's aerospace and commercial aviation partners," said Hooper, who said the office had been up and running for about a month. "The new office will be an integrated office, bringing together Boeing employees representing different business units, allowing us to conduct more efficiently day-to-day business."

The establishment of the office would help to counter the creeping encroachment into the Taiwan market by rival Airbus, which broke Boeing's monopoly here last year by selling planes to EVA Air, the nation's second-largest carrier, he said.

"The goal is to build better relationships," Hooper said.

The new focus will take on more importance as China Airlines (CAL, 華航) considers the purchase 12 new medium-range aircraft of either the Boeing 777 or the Airbus 330-300 series. The purchase would be part of a US$1.5 billion fleet-expansion program.

CAL spokesman Paul Wang (王振畬) said that although Boeing had recently intensified its sales pitch, the airline has yet to make a final decision.

Bell Helicopter Textron, which has had an office in Taipei since selling 63 SuperCobra AH-1Ws almost 10 years ago, is also eager to fill the request by Taiwan's military for 70 new AH-1Z choppers and an upgrade program to revamp its aging fleet.

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