Airbus' 2009 orders on course to exceed Boeing's

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Airbus appears virtually certain to exceed Boeing's declared year-end net order total of 142 aircraft when it discloses its 2009 figures next week.

The European airframer had recorded 194 net orders by the end of November last year, and has since confirmed firm agreements for dozens more aircraft.

Chilean operator LAN's order for 30 Airbus A320-family jets and a Turkish Airlines deal for a further 20 could help push its net total towards the 250 mark.

Air New Zealand is to take 14 A320s, but Airbus has yet to record a firm order, and 10 A320s for Yemenia are similarly tentative.

The airframer is also still to convert A330 agreements for China Eastern Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, start-up Senegal Airlines and Nepal Airlines, as well as A320s for the latter pair.

After taking account of the poor economic climate, Airbus forecast gross orders for 300-400 aircraft at the beginning of 2009 - a figure which had appeared optimistic several months into the first half, but parent company EADS has maintained expectations of 300.

Airbus could yet declare additional firm orders at its event next week in Seville, but with just 31 cancellations at the end of November - a quarter of the total accumulated by Boeing - the company would have to be concealing a substantial downward adjustment in its books to fall behind its US rival.

While this had appeared optimistic several months into the first half, parent company EADS has maintained a forecast of 300 aircraft.

Boeing delivered 481 aircraft last year, in line with expectations. EADS estimated in November that Airbus would achieve 490 deliveries. The airframer had reached 437 by the end of the same month.