Airbus congratulates "robust rival" Boeing on 787

WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus EAD.PA congratulated Boeing BA.N after its arch-rival completed a maiden flight of the 787 Dreamliner on Tuesday and promised "robust" competition from its own lightweight plane.

“Airbus congratulates the people of Boeing on this important achievement in their history,” Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said in comments send by email.

“The first flight of the 787 underscores the continual advancements in commercial aircraft that come about because of healthy competition. We look forward to a continued robust rivalry with our A350 XWB,” he said. The A350 so far exists only on paper and has been outsold by the Boeing 787, but is designed to enter service from 2013. The two models are fighting over a lucrative new market for mid-sized jets giving fuel savings through composite materials.

Boeing’s 787 is due to enter service in late 2010. (Reporting by Tim Hepher); +331 4949 5452