Airbus Industrie has ended the show in style with a $2billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 50 A319s from Northwest Airlines.

The deal brings the total value of contracts announced by Airbus at Paris '97 to $3.5billion.

US-based Northwest Airlines also has options on an additional 100 A319s.

Deliveries of the 125-seat aircraft will take place between 1999 and 2003. No engine decision has been made yet. Both the International Aero Engines V2500 and the CFM International CFM56 are being considered, but the latter is presumed to have the upper hand because it powers Northwest's existing 50 A320s.

"We were able to finalise the MoU during the show," says an Airbus spokesman, "so we were extremely happy to be able to be in a position to make the announcement here."

Airbus says Northwest is taking advantage of the commonality that the A319 will share with its A320s, a view endorsed by Michael Levine, Northwest's vice-president of marketing and international. "The A319 complements our 150-seat A320 and can serve as the foundation for our future needs for replacement and growth in the 125-seat category due to its superior economic and performance capabilities," he says.

The MoU will be turned into a final agreement "-in the near future", says John Dasburg, Northwest's president and chief executive officer.

In total, Airbus has announced new orders for 71 aircraft worth $3.5billion during Paris. Other customers include Finnair, Monarch Airlines and TAM Airlines.

Boeing's airliner show announcements include seven 737s to Sunrock Aircraft Corporation, worth $250million, and four 757s to Icelandair.

Source: Flight Daily News