Pacific Northwest Airbus announced on Tuesday an exceptional price increase for its aircraft, adding $2 million per single-aisle aircraft...

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Airbus announced on Tuesday an exceptional price increase for its aircraft, adding $2 million per single-aisle aircraft and $4 million per wide-body on top of a general inflation increase of 2.74 percent.

Both Boeing and Airbus have long waiting lists for airplanes, creating an opportunity to raise prices. The Airbus A320 single-aisle family of jets and the A330 midsize wide-bodies are in particularly hot demand.

The new price list means the smallest Airbus A318 sells for $56 million and up, a 6.3 percent increase, while at the opposite end of the size range the superjumbo A380 is listed at a top price of $337.5 million, up 2.3 percent. The A330-200 goes up 5.1 percent. The A350-900, the first of the new Airbus jet family, goes up 4.5 percent.

Airbus said the price increase was necessary to compensate for the weakness of the U.S. dollar and for an increase in raw-material prices, particularly the cost of metal. Airbus customers pay in dollars although many of the manufacturer’s costs are in euros.

The new pricing will apply as of May 1. It is the first time since 2003 that Airbus has applied a price increase above inflation.


Bangladesh airline orders jets

Boeing received an order for eight jetliners from Biman Bangladesh Airlines as the carrier expands its services.

Biman Bangladesh ordered four 777-300ER planes and four 787-8 Dreamliners, Boeing said Tuesday. They have a total list price of $1.7 billion, but the estimated actual price, based on data from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas, is $1 billion.

The airline also has purchase rights for four 777s and four 787s.

Jones Soda

3 directors leaving board

Three of Jones Soda’s seven directors will not stand for re-election to the board this year, the company said in a securities filing Tuesday.

On Friday, Jones will file a proxy statement naming three people who will become new directors if shareholders elect them to the board at Jones’ annual meeting in June, said Chief Financial Officer Hassan Natha.

The departing directors are Scott Bedbury, John Gallagher Jr. and Alfred Rossow Jr. Their decisions are not the result of a disagreement with Jones and are not related to its operations, policies or practices, according to the filing.

Bedbury, who has been on Jones’ board since 2003, became interim chairman after Jones founder Peter van Stolk stepped down as chairman and chief executive in December. Van Stolk still sits on the board.

Gallagher also sat on Jones’ board since 2003. Rossow has been a director since 2004.


Unmanned-aircraft contract gets away

Northrop Grumman beat out Boeing and Lockheed Martin to win a $1.16 billion Navy contract to design and develop an unmanned aircraft for patrolling coastlines and the open ocean.

Although the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance — or BAMS — award announced Tuesday is for the initial development of the plane, the contract could ultimately be worth several billion as the Navy buys as many as 44 unmanned aircraft. President Bush’s 2008 budget request includes $2.3 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation for the program plus an additional $780 million for procurement.


Boeing, Airbus team up for project

Boeing and Airbus said Tuesday at an aviation-industry meeting in Geneva that they will cooperate on the development of the next generation of air traffic control systems intended to eliminate congestion at airports.

Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing’s commercial arm, said the rival plane makers would join forces to ensure that new air-traffic systems being developed in Europe and the United States are fully interoperable.

Airbus and Boeing also joined other companies and trade bodies Tuesday, signing a declaration that commits the industry to develop new technologies with the eventual aim of achieving carbon-free travel.


BlackBerry voice search launched

Microsoft’s Tellme subsidiary announced Tuesday that it launched an application for the BlackBerry that lets people speak commands into their smart phones to search for businesses, look up movie times, check traffic and make other queries.

Once users download the program, they can push on their phone’s green “talk” button and say either the name of a business, type of business or the keywords “weather,” “movies,” “traffic,” “map” or “driving directions.”

Using GPS, the system figures out where the user is located and delivers nearby results from Microsoft’s Live Search engine to the smart phone’s screen, along with links to call, get directions, buy movie tickets and other related actions.

The program works on only some of Research in Motion’s newer BlackBerry models. Tellme said versions for Helio, Windows Mobile and Apple’s iPhone devices are in the works.

Nation and World


Euro reaches another record

The euro roared to another record high Tuesday, crossing $1.60 for the first time after a pair of European Central Bank governors said high inflation may cause the bank to raise interest rates. The U.S. dollar also fell against the Japanese yen and the British pound.

The euro rose as high as $1.6018, more than a penny above the $1.5916 it bought late Monday. The 15-nation currency, which was introduced in 1999, has traded as low as 82 cents. It has surged recently, rising 20 cents against the dollar in just five months and 10 cents in just two months.

The euro hit its last record of $1.5982 last Thursday.

United Airlines

1Q loss sends stock into nose-dive

United Airlines lost about a third of its market value Tuesday after reporting a $537 million first-quarter loss due to soaring fuel costs and saying it is cutting flights and 1,100 jobs.

Shares of United fell $7.88 to close at $13.55 Tuesday. The sell-off accelerated and shares of other airlines dropped after Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said that, in the face of record fuel prices, domestic carriers would need to raise fares by 15 percent to 20 percent just to break even. At the same time, crude-oil prices jumped by more than $2 and neared the once-unimaginable $120-a-barrel mark.

United’s loss, in what it called an “extraordinarily difficult” environment for airlines, was the biggest since the nation’s second-largest carrier emerged from bankruptcy in 2006 and worse than Wall Street expected.


Wireless growth boosts earnings

Showing few signs of being affected by a slowing economy, AT&T’s first-quarter earnings rose 22 percent on strong growth in wireless.

The wireless division at the country’s largest telecommunications company continued to drive growth, even as the local-phone business has declining numbers.

AT&T earned $3.46 billion, or 57 cents per share, in the three months ended March 31, compared with $2.85 billion, or 45 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding items, AT&T earned 74 cents per share, up from 65 cents per share a year ago. Revenue rose 6.1 percent to $30.7 billion, matching Wall Street’s forecast.

AT&T shares gained 4 cents to close at $25.12.


Investors nervous despite profit gain

Strong international sales helped McDonald’s post a 24 percent gain in first-quarter profit, but investors seemed nervous about the company’s first monthly decline of U.S. same-store sales in five years.

The fast-food behemoth easily topped Wall Street forecasts Tuesday when executives said it earned $946.1 million, or 81 cents per share, during the January-to-March period. That’s up from $762.4 million, or 62 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Revenue climbed 6 percent to $5.6 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a quarterly profit of 70 cents per share on revenue of $5.4 billion.

But a 0.8 percent dip in U.S. comparable store figures for March — an important metric for retailers — kept McDonald’s stock from rising Tuesday. Shares fell 32 cents to close at $58.35.

eBay / Craigslist

Suit filed over ownership stake

eBay sued Craigslist on Tuesday, alleging the classified site unfairly tried to dilute the online auctioneer’s stake in it.

eBay purchased a 28 percent stake in privately held Craigslist in 2004 from an unnamed former executive. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

But in January, eBay says, Craigslist’s board, consisting of founder Craig Newmark and Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster, unilaterally acted to dilute eBay’s economic interest in Craigslist by more than 10 percent.

eBay spokeswoman Kim Rubey declined to say what eBay’s stake is now.

The complaint is under seal because of confidentiality restrictions, according to a company statement. Craigslist may ask the court to make the complaint publicly available, eBay said.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press