I have to admit, when I heard yesterday that General Electric (NYSE: GE) was buying 60 of Airbus' new A320neo airplanes for its GECAS airplane-leasing unit, my jaw dropped just a little.

I mean, I understand the A320neo's attraction to Airbus aficionados like jetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU). I get why leasing companies Air Lease (NYSE: AL) and AIG (NYSE: AIG) are buying "neos," too. Airbus says the plane's 15% more fuel efficient than its old A320. It's also presumably offering big buyers sweet deals for bulk purchases.

But why in heaven's name would GE throw its weight behind Airbus? After all, GE's own archrival United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), via UTX's Pratt & Whitney subsidiary, is the company most frequently tapped to put engines on Airbus' planes. Why subsidize the enemy?

This morning, GE answered that question in spades. Presenting in Paris, the company bragged that it expects to win $10 billion worth of business at this week's Air Show alone, and that's just the beginning. Much of this business will come not from Boeing (NYSE: BA), but from its rivals. And GE believes that over the coming years it has an opportunity to outfit as many as 4,000 A320neos with engines through its partnership with France's Safran.

What's more, GE argues that its new "Leap-X" engine is perfectly suited for installation on China's new Comac C919 airliner. GE believes that over the coming years, it could win as many as 3,000 engine orders for the C919. And from what I hear, GE may also be angling for a place on China's other single-aisle Boeing challenger, the ARJ21.

A curiously stabby sensation between the shoulderblades
None of this sounds like good news for Boeing -- but GE is still an equal-opportunity opportunist. The engine maker's just as happy to take money from Boeing as it is from rivals Airbus and Comac. To that end, GECAS head Norman Liu made a point of mentioning his unit's interest in buying and leasing out Boeing's new 787 and 747-8 airliners as well -- and presumably, selling the engines to get those planes aloft.

When you get right down to it, though, it seems the biggest winner at this week's airplane extravaganza may not be an airplane-builder at all. If you ask me, it's GE.

What's GE's next move in its plan for world domination? Add the stock to your Fool watchlist and find out.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any company named above. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy