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Airbus bags firm orders worth $39 billion at show

Airbus' Chairman and CEO Fabrice Bregier (L) talks with Air-France KLM Chairman and CEO Alexandre de Juniac during a signing ceremony at the
Airbus' Chairman and CEO Fabrice Bregier (L) talks with Air-France KLM Chairman and CEO Alexandre de Juniac during a signing ceremony at the

By Maria Sheahan and Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus clinched deals for another 90 planes on Thursday, taking its total orders and commitments at the Paris Airshow to 466 aircraft worth $68.7 billion at list prices.

The tally includes firm purchase orders for 241 planes worth $39.3 billion, Airbus told a news conference at the show.

EADS-owned Airbus pushed back its traditional end-of-show round-up to enable it to squeeze out a final wave of orders from Hong Kong Aviation Capital, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines .

United, which earlier this week became one of the launch customers for U.S. planemaker Boeing's new 787-10 Dreamliner model, signed a firm deal for Airbus' competing A350-1000 aircraft, worth $3.3 billion.

Airbus said its answer to the Dreamliner had successfully completed its second flight on Wednesday and would fly past the air show this week, adding it had no plans to drop the smallest of the three versions of the A350, the A350-800.

"When you're production-constrained, as you all know we are, you want to not sell your smallest and least profitable plane," Airbus sales chief John Leahy said at the news conference.

"That is why we're concentrating on 900s and 1000s and on converting 900s into 1000s. I know there's been some wishful thinking in Seattle that we will drop the A350-800," he quipped, in a reference to Boeing.

United also converted its previous order for 25 A350-900s to the -1000 model on Thursday, though Airbus said it did not include conversions in its air show tally.

Boeing has announced 265 firm orders worth $24.7 billion and 127 commitments worth $36.6 billion at the show so far, though this does not strip out conversions, which include 30 of the firm orders.

JPMorgan analysts said EADS finance chief Harald Wilhelm told them at the show that first delivery of the A350 could come in the third quarter of next year, compared with official guidance of the second half.

"To be prudent, we still assume first delivery of the A350 is in 2015 but we increasingly see risk of a positive surprise," the analysts said.

Both Airbus and Boeing have announced a volley of wide-body jet orders during a week that saw Boeing unveil five launch customers for its new Dreamliner model and Airbus finalize deals with Singapore Airlines and Air France-KLM .

The order tallies from both planemakers also included major purchases of narrow-body medium-haul jets from Europe's two biggest low-cost carriers, Ryanair and easyJet .

Airbus also clinched a firm order for 20 A321 planes from Spirit on Thursday, worth $2.1 billion at list prices.

And Hong Kong Aviation Capital signed commitments for 40 A320neo and 20 A321neo planes in a deal worth $6.4 billion at list prices.

(Writing by James Regan; Editing by Mark Potter)

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