20060425 airbus gettyid56917019
A miniature model of the double-decker Airbus A380 at the Asian Aerospace 2006 show in Singapore, February 23. - 

TEXT OF STORYMARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The French-German plane maker Airbus has been struggling lately. Among other things, it's had to redesign its more modest jumbo jet, the A350. There were also questions about whether France's new President would even continue to support the troubled state-sponsored company. But yesterday Airbus got a break . . . sort of. Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Qatar Airways has signed up for 20 A350 planes. The head of the airline joined French president Nicolas Sarkozy to announce the agreement.

David Field of Airline Business Magazine says the agreement is more symbolic than concrete.

DAVID FIELD: What was announced and signed was a memorandum of agreement, which is a couple of steps short of a memorandum of understanding, which is a couple of steps short of an order.

In other words no money has changed hands yet.

Still, even a handshake deal is good news for Airbus. Qatar Airways is one of the world's most financially stable airlines. Not to mention . . .

FIELD: . . . that the French government is certainly making a continued commitment to Airbus.

Airbus wasn't sure until now that it could count on the new president's support. But even with Sarkozy on board, the company needs to cover a lot more ground to catch up to rival Boeing.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.