(In 6th paragraph, corrects to say Airbus will "sell" part of
the leasing quota, not "supply"; in 7th paragraph corrects to
say "has downgraded 30 orders ... to... options," not
"converted" the orders; in 8th paragraph corrects number that
appear as direct purchases to 71, not 41, and adds detail on
seven aircraft already switched; in paragraph 11, corrects to
show that airline went into bankruptcy after it entered into the
deal, not that it was already in bankruptcy)
By Tim Hepher
PARIS, May 7 (Reuters) -Airbus took 78 orders in April but
remained behind Boeing in the battle for new business after a
relatively quiet month dominated by the reshuffling of existing
orders, data released by the European planemaker showed on
The planemaker unit of Airbus Group said it had
received 236 orders up to the end of April and cancellations for
94, bringing its net order total for 2014 to 142 aircraft.
U.S. planemaker Boeing has said it booked 335 gross
orders and 288 net orders up to April 29.
Airbus data reflected some reallocation of an order from
American Airlines for 260 Airbus A320-family planes in 2011.
That deal, a record at the time, was due to be split equally
between versions of the revamped A320neo family and the existing
generation of Airbus medium-haul jets known as A320ceo.
The transaction was so big that Airbus agreed to arrange for
half of the 260 jets to be supplied by leasing companies from
planes already in the market, but the new data showed it will
sell part of this leasing quota instead.
American has downgraded 30 orders for the A321neo,
the largest version of the series, to options, the airline said
recently, leaving a total of 100 revamped jets on firm order.
At the same time, 71 aircraft that were originally due to
have been leased to American now appear as direct purchases from
Airbus. This is in addition to seven aircraft already switched
from leases to direct purchases from the planemaker.
The net result is that American will buy more planes
directly from Airbus than originally intended, though its firm
order for 130 of the new "neo" version of jet now stands at 100.
The 2011 American deal forced Boeing to follow Airbus'
strategy by revamping its 737 jets with new engines rather than
waiting for a more ambitious redesign of its most-sold jet.
The fleet overhaul was complex not only because of its size
but because the airline went into bankruptcy protection in
November 2011, four months after signing the deal. It exited
bankruptcy when it merged with US Airways in December 2013.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy told Reuters last year some of
the jets due to be supplied to the U.S. airline on its behalf by
lessors would be supplied directly instead.
The reshuffle came as U.S. leasing giant International Lease
Finance Corp, which is due to be taken over by Dutch-based
AerCap, cancelled orders for 9 A321ceo aircraft.
Airbus's order tally was boosted by an internal sale of six
A330 long-distance jets to its military division for conversion
into aerial refuelling tankers.
Airbus delivered 193 aircraft between January and April
including six A380 superjumbos. In the first quarter, the latest
period for which Boeing delivery data is available, the U.S.
company delivered 161 passenger aircraft.
(Additional reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Brian Love
and James Regan)