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Boeing Exec Visits Rival Airbus HQ

December 18, 2001

PARIS (AP) _ Boeing commercial aircraft chief Alan Mulally has made a foray into enemy territory, meeting with the top executive of rival Airbus at its headquarters in France, officials from both companies confirmed on Tuesday.

Mulally and Airbus Chief Executive Noel Forgeard met Monday evening at Airbus headquarters in the southern French city of Toulouse to discuss airplane security following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said Barbara Kracht, an Airbus spokeswoman.

Jean-Marc Fron, spokesman in Europe for Chicago-based Boeing, said Mulally was in town for an awards ceremony later Tuesday at an engineering school, and was given a tour of the Airbus plant.

Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht said the meeting was ``private″ and said it was not unusual for the rival companies to discuss safety matters.

``It’s normal for us to exchange views with each other or airlines about safety issues,″ Kracht said. ``We are fierce competitors in the commercial aircraft field, but on safety we work together.″

Airbus and Boeing are fierce rivals in the manufacturing of commercial jets. Last week, Forgeard criticized the U.S. government for what he called its unfair policy of subsidizing Boeing after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Forgeard had said in an interview published in Les Echos, a French financial daily, that the U.S. aid was a ``veritable Boeing Marshall Plan.″

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