International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC), the biggest aircraft lessor, may buy as many as 20 Boeing 7E7 airplanes, the leasing company's chairman said. The order would be worth...

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International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC), the biggest aircraft lessor, may buy as many as 20 Boeing 7E7 airplanes, the leasing company’s chairman said.

The order would be worth $2.4 billion, based on list prices. ILFC also may take options for 20 additional 7E7s.

The leasing company expects to complete talks with Boeing in coming weeks, said Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman and chief executive of ILFC, in an interview at the Toulouse, France, factory of Airbus where he was attending the unveiling ceremony for the A380 superjumbo.

“We’re in active discussions with Boeing,” he said. “They are coming in with a new offer, and we hope it will progress as the weeks go by.”

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Boeing is counting on the 200- to 300-seat 7E7 to help the company recapture the lead in the $50 billion commercial aircraft market from Airbus, which has produced more planes for the past two years. Airbus will introduce the A350 jet with a similar range and size and the same engines as Boeing’s 7E7.

EU trade chief urges resolution of dispute

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union’s trade chief called yesterday for swift results in talks due to open next week with U.S. officials to resolve the dispute over subsidies for trans-Atlantic aircraft rivals Airbus and Boeing.

“The global market is big enough for both Boeing and Airbus. Our task is to create the basis for fair competition between them,” Peter Mandelson said in a statement from Toulouse, France.

Washington and Brussels last week averted a legal clash at the World Trade Organization over the world’s top two plane makers, agreeing to talks on eliminating billions of dollars in subsidies.

Mandelson said discussions had begun in advance of next week’s opening meetings between EU and U.S. officials.

The European trade commissioner added that he expected to review the negotiations with outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of this month.

Reuters

Pentagon optimistic about missile defense

The U.S. has a limited capability to intercept North Korean nuclear missiles even though there has not been a successful intercept test since 2002, the Pentagon’s top testing official said in a new report.

The ground-based program managed by Boeing has demonstrated during extensive ground simulations “the technical feasibility” to launch Raytheon hit-to-kill interceptors against surrogate enemy missiles, Pentagon Director of Operational Test and Evaluation Director Thomas Christie said.

Christie’s report, submitted Jan. 6 to Congress in an unclassified version, is his most optimistic to date about a system the Bush administration wanted to declare by last month as ready for limited operations. The schedule was slowed by a lack of progress in intercept tests, including a Dec. 15 failure that Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said was caused by a “minor” software glitch.

Bloomberg News