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Source: Reuters

UPDATE 3-Airbus leads Boeing in slow race for orders

Published: 07 May 2009 18:04:23 PST

* 3 new orders bring net sales this year to 11 aircraft

* Airbus net orders down 97 percent so far this year

* Kingfisher switches to newer model of A350

* Boeing receives 25 cancellations for 787s in week (Recasts first sentence, adds Boeing orders and cancellations)

PARIS/CHICAGO, May 7 - Airbus sold three planes and took upgraded orders for five more in April, maintaining a lead over Boeing Co, which scrubbed from its order book more than two dozen 787 Dreamliners in the last week, the companies said on Thursday.

Airbus, the European planemaker, said it had sold an unadjusted total of eight wide-body aircraft in April and none of the single-haul A320-family jets that make up the backbone of many airline fleets in competition with the Boeing 737.

The eight aircraft sold include five A350 XWBs for India's Kingfisher Airlines, but these were offset in the order book by the cancellation of five orders by the same airline for an earlier model of the A350 that never went into development.

Airbus sold three A330s worth $181 million each at list prices.

These included one to International Lease Finance Corp, traditionally one of the world's largest aircraft buyers which has been largely sidelined as parent AIG, the troubled U.S. insurer, seeks a buyer for ILFC to help repay federal aid.

The April tally means that Airbus has so far this year sold a net total of 11 planes after cancellations for 19 aircraft.

The planemaker, a subsidiary of European aerospace group EADS, leads a glacier-paced race for orders against Boeing, which said customers canceled orders for 26 planes -- including 25 787 Dreamliners -- in the week ended May 5 but also took 18 new orders.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes now has one net cancellation for the year. Boeing did not say which customers canceled orders for the delayed 787, and a representative did not immediately return calls seeking further comment.

The company has said it is on track for its first 787 flight by the end of June.

In Thursday's report, Boeing said it received orders for five 777s from Turkish Airlines in the last week and 13 737s from an unidentified customer.


New business has plummeted 97 percent since the same point last year when Airbus had already sold a net 397 aircraft.

Both Airbus and Boeing ended 2008 with record backlogs of some 4,000 planes apiece but face the prospect of cancellations and forced cuts in output as travel and cargo demand slumps.

Airlines body IATA warned last week that swine flu would worsen problems for airlines, already hard hit by the global crisis which pushed passenger travel down 11.1 percent in March.

The disease was reported in Mexico in the last week of April and began spreading worldwide.

Many airlines had already deferred plans to renew their fleets as they focus on a battle for market share and survival.

Finland's Finnair said Thursday there was an accelerated fall in fares to attract passengers.

Wednesday, Airbus announced a cut in planned deliveries for its flagship A380 superjumbo, saying airlines were requesting deferrals due to the drop in demand.

It repeated, however, that it would deliver about the same number of aircraft overall in 2009 as last year's record 483.

In February, Airbus said it would cut A320-family single-aisle production to 34 a month from 36 in October.

Airbus said Thursday it had delivered 46 aircraft in April, bringing the total so far this year to 162.

EADS shares rose 1.5 percent in line with a firmer market.

Boeing said last month output of its 777 wide-body jet would fall to five planes a month from seven starting in June 2010.

Kingfisher's decision to upgrade closes an awkward chapter for Airbus after its original blueprint for the A350 proved unpopular compared with Boeing's hot-selling 787 Dreamliner.

After false starts, sales of the mid-sized plane took off when Airbus opted for a costly redesign and Kingfisher was the last of the original buyers to upgrade to the newer version.

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