UPDATE 1-China Southern Airlines orders 80 Airbus aircraft worth $7.3 bln

Fri May 16, 2014 4:32pm EDT

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BEIJING May 16 (Reuters) - China Southern Airlines Co Ltd on Friday said it has ordered 80 aircraft from Airbus Group NV worth at least $7.3 billion.

China Southern said it will receive 30 A320 and 50 A320neo airplanes from 2016 to 2020, increasing capacity by over 12 percent. The airline will pay for the order using its own funds and bank loans.

China Southern will also sell 6 Embraer SA E145 jets and components to Airbus before year-end, reducing capacity by 0.02 percent, the Guangzhou-based carrier said in a statement on its website.

The China Southern order provides a boost for Airbus in its market-share battle against Boeing Co's rival 737 MAX jetliner.

Both the A320neo and 737 MAX have new engines that improve fuel efficiency. Airbus launched the A320neo program before Boeing launched the 737 MAX, and Airbus has garnered nearly 60 percent of firm orders so far. However, Boeing said the 737 MAX has won a majority of orders since the MAX was launched in July 2011.

Chinese carriers have recently been increasing capacity to add flights and routes in China and beyond.

Earlier this week, 9 Air, a newly founded budget subsidiary of privately owned Juneyao Airlines, ordered 50 Boeing 737 jets.

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