Airbus closes on rival Boeing in jet order race

Fri Aug 5, 2016 1:02pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Alwyn Scott

PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) virtually closed the gap with Boeing in their intense battle for airliner orders in July after booking about half of the 197 firm sales unveiled at last month's Farnborough Airshow, according to the latest data from both companies.

Amid a broad slowdown in purchases, the European planemaker said it had sold a total of 373 jets between January and July, or 323 after adjusting for cancellations.

That compares with 383 airplane sales, or 333 after cancellations, by U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N: Quote).

Combined orders at the world's dominant planemakers fell 17 percent from the same period last year, weighed by concerns over the economy and relatively low oil prices, which have taken the edge off demand for new fuel-saving models.

Both planemakers are struggling to book new sales in a market that is seen as somewhat oversupplied with jets, especially larger wide-body models, industry experts said.

The slowdown has raised some questions about whether the companies will maintain plans to boost output later this decade.

Both have also faced a slew of order deferrals in recent weeks, while insisting the trend of postponements is stable.

Two industry sources said Indonesia's Lion Air, one of the largest jet buyers with hundreds on order from Boeing and Airbus, is weighing the deferral of about 25 Airbus jets.   Continued...

An Airbus A350 is pictured at the ILA Berlin Air Show in Schoenefeld, south of Berlin, Germany, May 31, 2016.     REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch