November 8, 2011 / 12:48 PM / 6 years ago

Airbus lead widens as neo sales hit 1,000

PARIS (Reuters) - Sales of Airbus’ revamped A320neo topped 1,000 as the European planemaker extended its lead over Boeing (BA.N) in the annual tug-of-war for jetliner sales, figures showed Tuesday.

Toulouse-based Airbus said it had won a total of 1,372 orders between January and October, more than three times the volume at the same stage last year and 2 1/2 times the 538 sales reported over the period by U.S. rival Boeing.

After taking into account cancellations, the planemakers booked net sales of 1,231 and 428 aircraft respectively.

Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS EAD.PA, is the world’s largest commercial planemaker by deliveries ahead of Boeing.

The latest Airbus figures include a sale of 110 aircraft to Qantas (QAN.AX) first announced in October, which included 78 revamped A320neos worth $91.2 million each at list prices.

Boeing hopes to catch up soon with 600 provisional orders for its own revamped 737 MAX waiting to be finalized, but so far Airbus stands well ahead of its rival in the battle to win sales for fuel-efficient narrow-body jets boasting new engines.

Boeing announced key design details of the 737 MAX last week, including the crucial size of the fan for its engines.

Airbus triggered one of the hottest market contests for years by deciding to put new engines on its 150-seat A320 jetliner in a bid to fend off competition from Canada’s Bombardier (BBDb.TO) and set the pace for delivering fuel savings.

Boeing endorsed the strategy by agreeing to re-engine the 737 in July after exploring a more radical but costly redesign which analysts said most airlines were reluctant to wait for.

Both planemakers say their models make most economic sense.

    The A320 and 737 are by far the best-selling models of each manufacturer and the backbone of most airline fleets. They are seen as a cash cow for bigger projects such as the Boeing 787, which entered service this month, and Airbus’ future A350.

    The market for narrow-body planes is usually split roughly evenly between the two manufacturers.

    Boeing is now considering whether to turn the tables on its arch-rival in a market where it is stronger by upgrading the 777 wide-body jet with new engines and other modifications.

    Boeing sold a total of 134 of the roughly 350-seat aircraft between January and the start of November, while it was Airbus that was forced to respond to the threat in this part of the market by beefing up engines on its competing A350-1000, a model which has scored zero sales so far this year.

    Airbus said it had delivered 418 aircraft between January and October. It is targeting 520-530 commercial deliveries for 2011.

    Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan

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