Japan Airlines is ordering three freighter versions of the Boeing 767-300ER and three passenger versions of the same plane in the latest...

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TOKYO — Japan Airlines is ordering three freighter versions of the Boeing 767-300ER and three passenger versions of the same plane in the latest sign of solid relations between the U.S. manufacturer and the Japanese carrier.

The planes will be delivered to JAL between 2007 and early 2008, a statement said.

Boeing’s order list for the 767 has been running low; there are 20 unfilled orders, according to its Web site. But Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said last month at the Paris Air Show that new orders meant the company will not have to decide this year whether to shut down its production line in Renton.

A JAL spokesman declined to give the purchase price for the latest order. The freighter planes will be used in medium-range routes connecting to Southeast Asia and China, he said.

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The latest order is in addition to an earlier order for three 767-300ER aircraft, set to be delivered later this year and next year. JAL has 37 767 jets in service.

Boeing’s European rival Airbus is outselling Boeing in the rest of the world, but Japanese carriers have had a warm relationship with Boeing for decades.

Japanese heavy-machinery makers are involved in the development of Boeing’s aircraft, and other suppliers such as tire maker Bridgestone and materials maker Toray Industries are doing big business with Boeing.

GE signs deal to buy

up to 40 Airbus planes

Airbus said General Electric’s finance unit signed a preliminary agreement to buy 40 new aircraft worth up to $2.4 billion at list prices, helping the company narrow the gap in orders with Boeing this year.

Airbus said GE Commercial Aviation Services plans to buy A319 planes, seating 124 passengers, as well as A320 planes, seating about 150 passengers. GE is seeking additional capacity amid rising demand from airlines, Airbus said. The accord gives Airbus a total of 496 firm orders and commitments to buy planes this year, reducing the lead of Boeing, which has 580.

Bloomberg News

New filing may delay

WTO subsidy probe

World Trade Organization (WTO) investigations to decide whether development subsidies to plane makers Airbus and Boeing are illegal may be delayed after the European Union (EU) submitted more evidence against the United States.

The United States and EU blocked attempts to start legal investigations at a WTO meeting June 13, each accusing the other of adding last-minute complaints that weren’t addressed in earlier, compulsory, 60-day talks. The extra details, which the United States may match, could mean those consultations will restart, putting back the start of legal deliberations.

“The U.S. can say ‘Sorry, the normal time period is 60 days’ and ‘This is a delaying tactic,’ ” said Jacques Bourgeois, a partner in the Brussels, Belgium, office of law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. “Neither party is keen on a quick treatment at the WTO because both are aware that the best solution is” a new agreement on aid ceilings, said Bourgeois, a former WTO panel judge and the EU’s main legal adviser on foreign trade.

The United States argues that European government loans to Toulouse, France-based Airbus amount to illegal subsidies worth $3.7 billion to the company’s most recent model, the A380, and should stop. At stake for the United States is funding worth a combined $5 billion for the 250-seat Boeing 787, scheduled to be introduced in 2008.

The 24-page EU submission, dated yesterday, lists U.S. state, NASA, departments of Defense, Commerce and Labor subsidies as well as federal tax subsidies available to Boeing. The details include procurement contracts for tanker and Airborne Early Warning programs, waiving patent rights and “early access to data, trade secrets.”

Bloomberg News