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Originally published December 10, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 10, 2007 at 5:17 PM

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Airbus moves closer to winning '07 order race

Airbus is expected to beat Boeing in this year's race for jet sales. That outcome now hinges on the European jet maker finalizing its massive...

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Airbus is expected to beat Boeing in this year's race for jet sales. That outcome now hinges on the European jet maker finalizing its massive Chinese order announced two weeks ago.

For now, though, even after all the gains Airbus made at the Dubai Air Show last month, November firm sales figures released today by Airbus show that Boeing remains ahead of its European rival in net orders.

The Airbus gross order total is larger, with 1,204 new orders compared with Boeing's gross order tally of 1,154. However, more than 100 of Airbus' new orders were finalized through canceling or substituting orders booked previously.

When cancellations and substitutions are subtracted to get the net gain for the year, Boeing has a net order total of 1,144 against Airbus' 1,095. (Unlike Boeing, Airbus does not provide the net order figure, but it can be calculated from other figures supplied.)

The Airbus tally includes most of its orders from the Dubai Air Show, though neither company includes in its total the 100-airplane order each announced in Dubai from aircraft lessor DAE Capital.

Yet Airbus' net-order tally will likely still beat Boeing's in the final month.

During French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to China at the end of November, Airbus secured a commitment to order 160 jets that should be finalized by year's end.

Though industry observers anticipate that in the long run China will balance its orders between Airbus and Boeing, there is no expectation that Boeing will match Airbus' China deal this year.

Last week in Paris, Boeing commercial airplanes chief executive Scott Carson conceded to the European press that it looks like Airbus will win the 2007 sales race.

Both airplane manufacturers will set order records this year.

Boeing has already surpassed last year's record net sales of 1,044 by 100 airplanes.

Airbus' previous highest order year was 2005 when its net-sales tally was 1,055 airplanes, already surpassed by 40 airplanes even without the China order.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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