El AL continues talks with Airbus [pg. 17]

Turbulence at European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will not influence El Al Israel Airlines' decision on where to shop for the next update to its fleet, company chairman Izzy Borovich told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "Airbus is a big corporation and we continue to talk to them and get information from them about their operations," Borovich said. He added that he did not have contact with Gustav Humbert, who resigned as Airbus' chief executive officer and president earlier this week, during El Al's ongoing negotiations to purchase more aircraft. Humbert announced his resignation after Airbus, last month, said there would be further delays in its super jumbo 555-seater A380 program, for which he took responsibility. The delays, which will limit Airbus' delivery of the world's largest plane to just nine in 2007 and shorten the 2008 delivery list by between five and nine A380s and by five for 2009, will reduce profits by approximately $2.5 billion over the next four years, the company said. It also marks a significant psychological blow for the company in its ever present competition for market share with US rival Boeing. Airbus' decision to focus on the A380 a few years back marked a stark contrast to the direction Boeing took in investing in its Dreamliner program. Boeing has also since embarked on its 747-8 program to compete with the A380 in the super size category, while Airbus will eventually compete with the more efficient Boeing Dreamliner 787 when its A350 is ready. While El Al is not in the market for the super-sized planes, it is planning to spend its dollars new planes in the 200 - 300 seater range where speculation has been wide that it may break its all-Boeing fleet with its next order. "We will make a decision in the coming months whether to buy Boeing 787s or Airbus A350s," Borovich said. "We are still in discussions with both."