* Net orders 1,038 in Jan-Sept
* Maintains 2011 order lead over Boeing (Adds details, background)
PARIS Oct 6 Airbus sold fewer planes than Boeing in September but maintained a strong advantage over its U.S. rival in the first nine months of the year after setting the pace in the market for narrowbody jets, company data showed on Thursday.
The European planemaker said it sold 23 aircraft last month, bringing its order total for the year to 1,179 passenger jets. Net orders, adjusted for cancellations, stood at 1,038.
Boeing sold 530 aircraft between Jan. 1 and Sept. 27, and net orders after cancellations stood at 425 aircraft, according to its latest data. Sales included 46 new orders booked in late September.
Airbus scored a commercial success this year with a revamped version of its A320 narrowbody jetliner, offering airlines fuel savings from 2015.
But analysts say Boeing is expected to bounce back in the order race after agreeing to carry out a similar engine upgrade on its best-selling 737 plane.
Competition between the two models dominates the aircraft industry and sales in the roughly 150-seat category are predicted to reach $2 trillion over 20 years.
Sales have so far held up despite fears of a new recession, driven by growth in emerging markets and a long-awaited move by U.S. carriers to renew inefficient fleets.
Airbus said earlier it had finalised an order for 110 jets from Australia's Qantas , including 78 of the revamped A320neo jetliners. The deal is likely to be reflected in the next monthly order announcement for October.
The EADS subsidiary said it had delivered 374 aircraft in the first nine months of the year, including 16 A380 superjumbos. Delivery is the point at which airlines and lessors pay the bulk of the aircraft's agreed price. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan)