Air France splits order between Airbus, Boeing: report

PARIS, Sept 16, 2011 (AFP) - Air France-KLM has decided to split a landmark order for 50 long-haul carriers between Europe's Airbus and US rival Boeing, at a total value of $11.3 billion (8.1 billion euros) a press report said Friday.

The giant Franco-Dutch airline will order 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 Boeing 787-800 Dreamliners with options to buy another 50 planes to renew its fleet, according to the daily Les Echos.

Air France-KLM refused to comment on the report, but the company is expected to announce its decision at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) after a board meeting late Thursday.

At a press conference last week, the airline's chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the order would include" a maximum of options" to buy in order to replace planes that will reach the end of their service in 2018-2020.

The announcement is set for an angry response from some quarters, after a petition by more than 180 French deputies urging the Franco-Dutch group to favour Airbus against its American rival.

The order has attracted huge attention in France, where officials and politicians have favoured Airbus -- whose major plant lies in Toulouse, in the south of the country -- over Boeing, touching on sensitive ground as the two companies fight it out.

The long-haul planes will replace Air France's A340 fleet and KLM's stock of Boeing MD-11s.

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