December 19, 2014 / 10:39 AM / 3 years ago

Hawaiian Air swap takes Airbus A330neo orders over 100

Airbus's company logo is pictured at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, December 4, 2014.Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - Hawaiian Airlines has confirmed an order for six Airbus (AIR.PA) A330-800neo aircraft worth $1.5 billion at list prices, swapping them for a previous A350 order, the planemaker said on Friday.

The order for a revamped version of the A330, with new Rolls-Royce (RR.L) engines, brings to just over 100 the number of firm orders for the A330neo, a reworked version of Airbus's most-sold wide-body jet which was launched earlier this year.

The A330neo is Airbus's alternative for the 250-300 seat market after sales of the smallest version of the new A350 aircraft family, the A350-800, proved disappointing.

Hawaiian's new order replaces an order for six A350-800s, which would be worth $1.6 billion at today's list prices.

Hawaiian's agreement to switch products is one of the determining factors in deciding whether Airbus can scrap the 270-seat A350-800 to focus on stronger-selling larger types of the new jet, the first of which will be delivered on Monday.

Development of the A350-800 has been put on the back burner, but the fate of a total of 26 orders from Russia's Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines (020560.KS) and Yemen's Yemenia must still be settled before Airbus can officially halt the smallest A350 variant.

Because of recent improvements in the 20-year-old airframe and new engines, Airbus says the A330neo will be as efficient as the more modern 787 Dreamliner. Boeing (BA.N) disputes this and points to far greater sales of its carbon-composite jet.

Airbus is awaiting confirmation of a total of 56 provisional A330neo orders from lessors Air Lease Corp (AL.N) and Avolon AVOL.N, Russian airline Transaero (TAER.MM) and an unidentified Asian customer.

It is said to be struggling, however, to find buyers for the existing version of A330, prompting it to predict last week it would have to cut production rates again in 2016 while hoping to recover when the re-engined A330neo comes on line.

A further output cut had been widely forecast but a related warning of flat 2016 profits triggered a three-day slide in the European firm's stock. The shares were up 0.8 percent on Friday.

Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) meanwhile said late on Thursday it would slow receipt of 10 Boeing 777s it has ordered due in 2015 and 2016 as it closes the year with a third profit warning

Its finance director said deliveries of the newer Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, which arrive from 2017, were not affected.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Nick Vinocur and Andrew Callus

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