February 3, 2017 / 1:34 PM / 10 months ago

Air France swaps two cancelled A380s for smaller A350 jets

PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Air France has swapped its remaining orders for two Airbus A380 superjumbos for three of the smaller A350s, Airbus data showed on Friday, highlighting a switch towards lighter twinjets.

The cancellation of the last two out of a dozen A380s originally ordered by the French flag carrier had been expected after the change was flagged in March last year. The other 10 A380s are already in operation.

Removing the A380 order from its order book in a monthly update, Airbus said the French network of Air France-KLM had simultaneously ordered three A350-900 planes.

Demand for large four-engined aircraft like the A380 has been waning as airlines switch to smaller and newer jets like the A350 and Boeing 787.

Boeing, whose competing 747 jumbo is nearing the end of a long career, also took two cancellations in January.

In total, Airbus booked four new orders in January, or two after adjusting for the A380 cancellations, heralding what is expected to be a slower year across the industry as airlines continue to take stock after a longer than expected order cycle.

It delivered 25 aircraft in January.

Airbus net orders fell 32 percent to 731 jets last year. It is expected to target something closer to 600 this year as new bookings fall below deliveries for the first time in eight years in the face of slower demand, especially for bigger jets.

Airbus delivered 688 jets in 2016 and its planemaking president, Fabrice Bregier, said last month he expected over 700 deliveries in 2017 -- but without the last-minute surge seen last December due to supplier problems earlier in the year.

Boeing posted 11 orders and received two cancellations between the start of the year and January 24, the only period for which 2017 data is yet available. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Dominique Vidalon)

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