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Airbus, Boeing Win $80 Billion Orders at Air Show

Airbus and Boeing ensured 2007 smashes all records for plane sales as deals announced at the Dubai air show neared $80 billion on Monday, powered by demand from Gulf Arab states.

Airbus moved ahead of Boeing in their annual battle for orders, with both scoring key wins at Dubai, including orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 XWB.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise signed letters of intent for 100 planes from each maker on Monday, among them 30 A350s and 30 large Boeing models including the 787, 777 and 747-8 freighter.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said the planemaker was at 1,122 orders for the year so far, its highest ever. He predicted the A350 would have 300 orders by year's end.

The A350 got off to a slow start and has seen fitful design changes over the last two years but the DAE deal and Emirates' order for 70 plus 50 options on Sunday have provided a boost.

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders told reporters the planemaker was focused on demonstrating "we can not only get orders, but deliver," referring to the company's efforts to overcome costly delays in its A380 superjumbo.

Long Term Confidence

He said the orders in Dubai showed airlines and lessors backed not only the A350, but the company after its troubles with the superjumbo.

"It's not the numbers but the confidence in the long run," he said, referring to winning orders for deliveries spread out to 2018.

The deal from DAE comes as the Dubai-based firm launches an aircraft leasing company, part of broader plans to invest $15 billion over five years in aerospace-related businesses.

"Today, we are laying down a significant marker," said Bob Genise, chief executive officer of DAE's aircraft leasing unit, DAE Capital. "We have fairly ambitious goals."

DAE has joined airline Emirates as a symbol of the region's surging growth as Dubai positions itself as a major hub airport and destination for both industry and tourists.

Dubai is building one of the world's biggest airports, capable of handling as many as 120 million passengers per year as it seeks to capitalise on its location between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Airbus' Leahy noted Dubai was the world's 28th busiest hub airport 10 years ago and was now 10th.

"That's why the record number of A380s are going to Emirates," Leahy said, referring to a back order of 58 of the double-decker planes held by the airline, included 11 added on Sunday.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was named as the first private A380 buyer, dubbed a "Flying Palace," on Monday.