| LE BOURGET, France
LE BOURGET, France Airbus put on a show of force at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday, securing a $16 billion deal for 180 aircraft from India's IndiGo and saying more deals were near, leaving rival Boeing in the shade.
The European planemaker, a unit of EADS, is expected to deal another blow to its U.S. rival by securing a $17 billion agreement with Malaysia's AirAsia for up to 200 of its revamped A320neo family of aircraft on Thursday.
"We are having a very strong show and we are very pleased with the response to the neo program: it's overwhelming," said Airbus sales chief John Leahy.
"We have sold 727 neo so far. There is a possibility that we will be at 1,000 by the end of the show."
Indian budget carrier IndiGo ordered 180 Airbus planes -- 150 A320neo jets and 30 of the classic variant -- a record in terms of numbers and the biggest boost to date for the A320neo as higher oil prices push airlines to seek more fuel-efficient aircraft.
"The big orders are coming from the non-mature countries with the airlines going where the cash is -- it's all part of the continuing shift in economic power from west to east," said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at UK brokerage BGC Partners.
Another boost for the A320neo came via U.S.-based Republic Airways, who signed a letter of intent to buy 80 of the revamped jets worth around $7 billion.
Boeing was not left entirely out in the cold, securing a provisional $3.3 billion deal with Russia's UTair Aviation for 40 of its next-generation 737 planes.
Industry sources told Reuters that Airbus and AirAsia executives were putting the finishing touches to a potentially huge order, likely to be announced on Thursday.
A deal with AirAsia would be the climax of a week in which Airbus has seen momentum build for the revamped version of its top-selling single-aisle aircraft.
There was more good news for Airbus after one of its A380s -- damaged on the eve of the world's biggest aerospace event -- returned to the skies over the sun-drenched showground, with the head of EADS predicting more sales of the $375 million superjumbo.
"The A380 is flying and we should have some more orders today," Gallois told RTL radio. Industry sources told Reuters Gulf carrier Qatar Airways would place an order for the superjumbo on Wednesday.
Chinese planemaker COMAC sent a shot across the bows of the big two by signing a deal with Ireland's Ryanair, which will see it help COMAC design a rival to Boeing's 737.
Engine maker Rolls-Royce and Qantas Airways said separately they had reached an out-of-court settlement over an engine explosion last year that forced an A380 to make an emergency landing. [ID:nL3E7HM093]
Airbus has outsold Boeing in the first three days of the show, so far notching up around $57 billion of orders, compared with Boeing's $22 billion.
Boeing is yet to decide whether to upgrade or redesign its top-selling single-aisle 737 as competition mounts from manufacturers in emerging markets.
The healthy demand from buyers has provided evidence that a solid upswing in civil aviation is under way, powered by emerging markets in Asia. High fuel prices have also given buyers a sense of urgency in purchasing fuel-efficient planes.
(Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume, Kyle Peterson, Cyril Altmeyer, John Irish and Tim Hepher; Editing by David Holmes and David Hulmes)