Based on a strong first quarter, Boeing expects to book more commercial-jet orders in 2005 than Airbus, the aerospace giant's chief of commercial-plane...

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Based on a strong first quarter, Boeing expects to book more commercial-jet orders in 2005 than Airbus, the aerospace giant’s chief of commercial-plane sales said yesterday.

“We’ll beat them this year,” said Scott Carson, who became head of sales in December, replacing Toby Bright.

Boeing has fallen behind Airbus in orders for the past several years, a sore point for a company that for decades dominated the global market for jetliners.

Now, as it markets its new 787 to airlines around the world, Carson is confident its overall orders will surpass Airbus for the year.

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Airplane deliveries are not likely to beat Airbus in 2005, however, given the backlog of orders at the European company.

Carson said competition with Airbus over price and other factors is “as intense as I can imagine it being.” He expects it to intensify further.

To help sell planes, Boeing has learned to move faster in making key decisions for customers, said Carson, former leader of Boeing’s Connexion unit.

“We are making all the necessary moves to make this company work better for the sales team,” he said.

Boeing also is paying more attention to some customers it had neglected, Carson said. “We had largely abandoned our customers in the Middle East,” he said.

To help remedy that, top officials, including Carson and members of Boeing’s board, have visited customers in the Middle East in recent months. Carson also has made a trip to India, an important market for Boeing, and three trips to Europe.

Last year, Boeing fell short of its prediction of securing 200 orders and commitments for the 787 by year’s end. Carson called releasing that sales goal publicly “pretty nuts.”

“Part of it was that customers waited to see if we’d do a better deal if we weren’t getting close to the 200,” he said.

Boeing now has 193 orders and commitments for the 787. The jet is expected to enter service in 2008.