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Plane makers vie for Boeing, Airbus market share

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Steve Chiotakiss: Airplanes are of course big ticket items. And today plane maker Boeing said profits fell more than 20 percent. Revenues for the aircraft manufacturer fell nearly 10 percent. Now Boeing, of course, is pinning a lot of hopes on its new high tech jet debuting in the coming months. One that it unveiled last week just outside of London. While orders for new planes have been brisk for Boeing and for its rival, Airbus, many believe the days of the two companies dominating the aerospace market could be numbered. Christopher Werth filed this report.

Christopher Werth: Visitors crowded in to catch a glimpse of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner. The company has already sold over 800 of its big, new jets. But despite the success, it’s the smaller models the company developed in the 1980’s that Boeing’s Jim Proulx says still dominate sales.

Jim Proulx: The single aisle marketplace has been a very important market for us for a long time. And in the future it’s going to be an even greater part of the market.

But both Boeing and its European rival Airbus have so far avoided putting out new, single aisle planes to replace its older ones, and now manufacturers in Russia, China and Canada are all developing new models to steal some of that market share.

Ben Boehm is with the Montreal-based company Bombardier. He says over the past several decades airlines have had to stretch or shrink their older, existing Boeing and Airbus models in order to cut costs and cram more people in.

Ben Boehm: And the biggest issue with stretching or shrinking in the aerospace industry is that it’s inefficient.

He says the design of Bombardiers new airplanes will *feel less crowded, and will use 20 percent less fuel than Boeing or Airbus. And emerging markets aren’t far behind. The Russian manufacturer Irkut brought a full size mock up of its new plane to the Farnborough show. The company’s president, Alexey Fedorov, says Irkut’s planes will cost up to 10 percent less than its bigger competitors.

Alexey Fedorov (voice of interpreter): I think passengers and airlines will like this aircraft, and I think we have a very good chance to be in the market in five years.

And Federov points out that with Boeing and Airbus collectively saddled with about four and a half thousand backorders, companies like his will be able to deliver planes much more quickly. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some turbulence ahead for these newcomers. Despite great expectations, Bombardier left the show without taking a single order for its new planes.

In Farnborough, England, I’m Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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