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Airbus extends order lead over Boeing, lags deliveries

An Airbus A380 plane takes off during a demonstration flight at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow
An Airbus A380 plane takes off during a demonstration flight at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's Airbus extended its lead over Boeing in a hard-fought order contest in October, but remained behind on deliveries, leaving its U.S. rival in the industry's no.1 spot.

Airbus said it had sold 153 jets in the month to bring new orders for the first 10 months of the year to 1,265 aircraft.

Boeing's orders for the same period stood at 1,102 jets, the company said in a monthly breakdown on Thursday.

October was dominated by high-profile defections of two airlines previously loyal to Boeing as Mexican airline VivaAerobus and Japan Airlines <9201.T> opted for Airbus jets.

Boeing, which won the race on both orders and deliveries in 2012, is expected to hit back with significant sales at this month's Dubai Airshow but analysts say Airbus has the edge in this year's order battle while trailing behind on deliveries.

After cancellations, Airbus booked a total of 1,215 net orders from January to October, up 14 percent from the same period a year earlier and well above Boeing's 957 net orders.

Airbus had already exceeded its official target of 1,000 gross orders by the end of September, but by breaking through the 1,200 barrier it has also beaten an internal goal.

Airbus continued, however, to show a blank scorecard for 2013 sales of the A380 superjumbo. Disappointing sales of the world's largest aircraft have raised questions over production and ambitions to break even on the jet in 2015.

Parent EADS is expected to update investors on targets with quarterly results on November 14.

Airbus delivered a total of 504 planes between January and October including four A380s that brought total superjumbo deliveries this year to 18, against a full-year target of 25.

Boeing delivered 530 aircraft in the same period and last week announced plans to increase production targets from 2017 to meet strong demand for medium-haul jets.

The latest industry data comes as Boeing prepares to unveil potentially record orders for its new 777X wide-body jet at the November 17-21 Dubai Airshow, subject to board approval.

Industry sources say a decision on whether to launch the plane with what some estimate to be as many as 250 potential orders, including deals outside the Gulf, hinges on union and legislature approval for proposals to build the plane in the Seattle area in return for labor and tax concessions.

Airbus is also negotiating to sell aircraft at the Middle East aerospace event and is expected to close a deal for 20 A380s with leasing company Doric Lease Corp soon.

Boeing's first data for early November meanwhile suggested that unidentified airlines had upgraded orders for 26 of the company's best-selling 737 jets to the newer MAX model. Southwest Airlines confirmed it accounted for 20 of these.

Demand for the fuel-saving 737 MAX and the competing Airbus A320ne, as airlines try to cut operating costs, has propelled commercial aerospace through an unusually strong and prolonged upward cycle despite the financial crisis in developed markets.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Karen Jacobs; Editing by Natalie Huet and Anthony Barker)

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