Boeing deal may face EU probe

Airbus considers referring Delta tie-up to official scrutiny

By David Fowler

Airbus is considering referring Boeing’s 20-year exclusive deal to supply aircraft to Delta Air Lines to the European Commission.

Chris Geoghegan, managing director of British Aerospace Airbus, said the Delta deal was `a clear drive to stop genuine competition’.

Under the deal signed last week, Delta placed firm orders for 10 Boeing 767s, five 757s, 70 737s and 21 767s. Deliveries would begin next year and continue to 2006. Delta has options to extend deliveries to 2018. American Airlines last year made Boeing sole supplier to 2008.

`This approach is locking us out of important markets in the US,’ said an Airbus spokesman.

`We expect the issue to be raised with the relevant competition authorities.’

A spokeswoman for EU competition commissioner Karel van Miert said the deal could be raised as part of the commission’s investigation of the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger.

City analysts said that since neither American or Delta were significant Airbus customers the deals were no great loss. `Airbus is always starting from behind in the US market,’ said one.

Airbus battler, page 14