* Shares down, concerns about production rates
* Airbus CEO says transition to A330neo is "shorter"
* Airbus does $75.3 bln in deals at its busiest Farnborough
* Boeing leads 2014 order race
(Recasts with comments on production, adds analyst comment,
FARNBOROUGH, England, July 17 Airbus
said it would have a "smooth" transition from the A330 jet to a
new, updated version of the twin-aisle plane after concerns over
production rates hit its shares this week.
"This transition for us is much shorter than others. I
didn't say we would stay at 10 (planes per month) but didn't say
we would fall below that either," Fabrice Bregier, the chief
executive of the planemaker told a news conference at the
Farnborough Airshow on Thursday.
Shares in Airbus have fallen 3.4 percent over the past week
and were down 0.3 percent on Thursday.
"We believe actual output will fall from the 10 per month
currently as transition to the new aircraft takes place," Cantor
Fitzgerald analyst Andy Chambers wrote in a research note on
Bregier said the group would probably increase production
for the smaller A320 family of planes from the 46 per month it
hopes to achieve in 2016 although it could not say when or to
He was speaking as Airbus said it garnered total orders and
commitments during the Farnborough Airshow for 496 aircraft,
including 121 for the upgraded A330neo which it launched on
Rival Boeing said on its website it had reached 783
net orders for the year to date, which implies a total of 134
firm orders and 68 provisional orders at Farnborough.
That means Boeing still leads in orders this year, as the
Airbus' total is now 648 for 2014.
Concerns about a bubble in airline orders have led analysts
and industry watchers to question whether some orders will be
cancelled or delayed, and dampened hopes for much business ahead
of this week's air show.
"With 500 aircraft ordered or committed, we cannot say that
the market is weaker," Bregier said. He said it was the best
Farnborough ever for the company.
Also at the conference, Airbus said it expects to win at
least one order from the Middle East for the A330neo this year.
"I certainly see a home for the A330neo in the Middle East,"
sales chief John Leahy said when asked whether an airline such
as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways could be interested in the
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer;
editing by Jason Neely)