• The Associated Press


Airbus SAS named former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Glen Fukushima as president of its Japanese unit Wednesday, as the European aircraft maker battles the domination of U.S. rival Boeing Co. here.

Although Airbus controls more than half the world’s commercial aircraft market, it has only about 1 percent in Japan. Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy said a new management team was being set up to fix that.

Leahy said he hopes to win orders for the just-unveiled Airbus superjumbo A380, and criticized Boeing’s control of Japan’s market as “a monopoly” that was pushing up prices.

“We are willing to compete on prices,” Leahy told reporters.

In December, Japan Airlines said it will purchase 30 of Chicago-based Boeing’s 787s, formerly known as the 7E7 Dreamliner, with an option to order 20 more.

That order followed a purchase of Boeing 787s announced last April by Japan’s No. 2 carrier, All Nippon Airways Co.

Fukushima said Airbus needs to build a relationship of trust with carriers in Japan because the culture tends to place greater importance on history and human networking, where Boeing has a track record. But he said he needs more time to come up with a specific strategy on how to achieve results here.

“We are confident about the potential of the A380 in the Japanese market,” he said.

In addition to serving as deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for Japan and China, Fukushima has been a businessman in recent years, serving as vice president at AT&T Japan Ltd. and other posts.

Airbus also appointed Norio Yamanouchi, a veteran in the Japanese aviation industry, and Hiroshi Jojima, formerly of the Aerospace Co. of Fuji Heavy Industries, a major Japanese manufacturer, to its Japan management team.

Airbus and Boeing are in a heated battle over the world’s commercial aircraft market.

Airbus has 154 orders for the A380, a double-decker that seats more than 550 people, which Airbus claims is quieter and roomier than Boeing’s offerings.

The new A350 from Airbus, scheduled to enter the market in 2010, was designed as an alternative to the Boeing 787.

Boeing’s 787 is fuel-efficient and smaller, seating nearly 300 people. It is set to go into service in 2008. Boeing said it has 191 orders for the 787 so far.

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