May 7, 2015 / 11:06 AM / 2 years ago

Airbus surges past Boeing in orders, lags in deliveries

People are silhouetted past a logo of the Airbus Group during the Airbus annual news conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

PARIS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) has moved ahead of U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N) in their race for aircraft orders thanks to a large Latin American win, setting the tone for what could be a fiercely competitive Paris Airshow next month.

The European planemaker won orders for 229 aircraft between January and April. After cancellations, net orders totaled 209, it said on Thursday.

The surge came after Colombia’s Avianca confirmed an order for 100 Airbus jets in a $10 billion deal.

Also on Thursday, Boeing said it had won 153 orders this year, up to May 5, or 128 after adjusting for cancellations.

Boeing remained ahead on deliveries after handing 250 planes to customers in the first four months of 2015, compared with Airbus’s total of 196.

Airbus deliveries of 7 A380 superjumbos so far this year included the 159th delivery since the double-decker entered service in 2007.

Last month’s handover to Etihad Airways, coinciding with the tenth anniversary since the world’s largest airliner first took flight, took A380 deliveries beyond the half-way point compared with the total of the twin-deck planes it has sold.

Airbus is studying whether to revamp the A380 to boost sales and says it is confident of replenishing the order pipeline even before that decision.

On Wednesday, the head of Qatar Airways said in Dubai he would not order more A380s without an “absolute rethink” by Airbus, adding that any revamp of the existing model would need to generate 10-15 percent fuel savings.

However, he praised the newer twin-engined A350-900 compared to Boeing’s 787, which he said was only now coming out of early teething problems.

Qatar is the only A350 operator so far, with two in service. It operates the Boeing 787 and has ordered the larger 777X.

“I commend Airbus, they learned a lot from their mistakes ... When you compare the A350 to the 787, the former is head and shoulders above Boeing,” Al Baker told a news conference.

But he issued a warning to Airbus about an emerging market for 400-seat planes, sandwiched between the largest model of A350, which seats 369 people, and the 544-seat A380.

“Unless Airbus goes a step higher than A350-1000, the (Boeing) 777-9X will be the backbone of a lot of airlines,” he said. The 777-9X aims to carry 406 passengers from 2020.

Airbus has delivered one A350 this year as it ramps up production and says it is targeting 15 deliveries by end-year.

Additional reporting by James Regan; Editing by Andrew Callus, Keith Weir and Mark Potter

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