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Boeing and Airbus, the world's leading airplane builders, each scored new gains in their battle for preeminence. Boeing announced a $6.9 billion order from Air India Tuesday for 27 of its fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliners, its first new plane in 15 years. If approved by the Indian government, the deal also will include 23 Boeing 777s. It is similar in magnitude to Air Canada's order, announced Monday, for 32 new 787s and 777s, with an option for 64 more. Meanwhile, Airbus celebrated the maiden test flight of its A380 double-decker passenger jet. Thousands of invited guests, employees, and ordinary spectators cheered as the plane roared down the runway outside Toulouse, France, and gained altitude, ending the four-decade reign of Boeing's 747 as the biggest airliner in the skies. The A380, which is designed to carry 555 passengers but has room for more than 800, will undergo a year of flight tests before Airbus starts filling orders from the first 15 buyers.

IBM Corp. announced an OK from its board of directors to buy back $5 billion worth of stock, the largest such repurchase in the company's history, MarketWatch reported.

Creditors and the operator of the undersea tunnel between England and France appear on a collision course over the latter's demand Tuesday for forgiveness of most of its massive debt. The new chairman of money-losing Eurotunnel Group said it can't "support" more than $4.2 billion of the $12.2 billion creditors are owed, nor can it afford to offer shares in a debt-for-equity swap. Otherwise, Jacques Ganoun warned, "Eurotunnel will not make it through the first quarter of 2007." French investors hold 62 percent of stock in the enterprise, and Ganoun said they will reject any "dilution" of their shares. A spokesman for a committee of creditors told The Telegraph (London) that Ganoun's "suggestion" was unacceptable, adding, "We look forward to starting negotiations within the framework of Eurotunnel's existing obligations."

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Royal Dutch/Shell appears on the brink of losing a 40-year deal to develop an oilfield in Oman, perhaps to Occidental Petroleum of the US, the Financial Times reported. It said the government has asked Occidental for an "alternative proposal" to extract more oil at a lower cost from the Mukhaizna field, the sultanate's sixth-largest, than Shell has proposed. An Occidental spokesman confirmed that the company "has been in talks" with the government, but would not offer specifics. A spokesman for Shell said only, "We are reviewing the options."

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