Heavy Rain Dampens Unveiling of Boeing's New 787 Jet in Paris

June 22, 2011 - 6:59 AM

France Air Show

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares its landing at Paris Bourget airport upon its presentation for the first time at the 49th Paris Air Show at le Bourget airport, east of Paris, Tuesday June 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Horrendous weather and a public transport strike caused chaos at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday, delaying a raft of order announcements for Airbus and dampening the mood at Boeing's unveiling of its new 787 jet.

Airbus had scheduled three order announcements before noon but pouring rain aggravated already overloaded highways, preventing at least one of the jet maker's customers from making it to the air show on time.

Getting to Le Bourget Airport, only nine miles from central Paris, should take just 25 minutes but access has taken up to two hours some mornings because of heavy traffic and a strike by train drivers.

With news conferences delayed, Airbus had to make due with just a written announcement for its first order of the day, a deal for six A350 long-range jets from Kuwaiti leasining company ALAFCO.

Boeing, meanwhile, showcased its 787 jet, dubbed the Dreamliner, for the first time despite the bad weather.

Japan's All Nippon Airways announced Wednesday it expects to receive the first of the much-delayed 787s in August or September, and have a total of 14 of the revolutionary composite jetliners by next March. The airline has 55 of the planes on order.

Developmental problems have delayed the twin-engine jet's introduction into passenger service by more than three years.

Chicago-based Boeing has announced fewer new orders in Paris than Airbus, but the arrival of the 787 late Tuesday caused a lot of neck craning by attendees. The plane goes on demonstration Wednesday.

Airbus has booked over $25 billion in orders and commitments for new aircraft at this year's air show, including a raft of orders for its A320neo, a fuel-efficient workhorse that airlines are eager to buy because of the 15 percent fuel savings Airbus boasts the jet will achieve.

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Slobodan Lekic at Le Bourget contributed to this report.