Business: Flying High with Airbus

Some big orders give the European wide-body a boost

American commercial planemakers have long dominated the world skies, but their near monopoly is under assault. Last week The Netherlands' KLM and West Germany's Lufthansa, which up to now have operated predominantly U.S.-made fleets, both announced important buys of wide-bodied, twin-engined planes built by Airbus Industrie, a consortium backed by four European governments.

KLM's order, for ten short-range A310s (with options for ten more), is the largest it has ever made. Lufthansa's purchase of 25 of the planes (and options for an additional 25) is the biggest order the decade-old consortium has landed. Equally...

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