PARIS: Neo dominates Airbus orderbook while Boeing orders mount

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Airbus' domination of the show with the A320neo continued on the second day, while Boeing quietly racked up a number of new orders as Aeroflot, Norwegian, Malaysian Airlines and lessor GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) contributed to commitments for 35 aircraft.

Airbus secured orders and commitments for more than 100 aircraft A320neos, including US low-fare operator JetBlue Airways which agreed to take 40.

JetBlue's tentative agreement, for which it has yet to make a powerplant choice, is part of a broader Airbus deal under which it will switch 30 of its backlogged A320s to A321s.

But in terms of numbers, US leasing firm CIT Aerospace eclipsed the JetBlue deal for the A320neo after signing a memorandum of understanding for 50 of the type, underscoring the popularity of the re-engined jet with lessors following previous agreements with International Lease Finance, Air Lease and GECAS covering more than 200 A320neos.

If firmed, CIT's backlog of Airbuses would increase to more than 240 jets, including 195 A320-family aircraft - among them the A320neo. CIT's order book also includes A330s and a handful of the new A350 long-haul twinjet.

The order, when firmed, "will help us meet our customers' demand for state-of-the-art, fuel-efficient aircraft", said C Jeffrey Knittel, CIT's president of transportation finance.

CIT has signed agreements with both CFM International and Pratt & Whitney to fit, respectively, their Leap and PW1100G powerplants to the aircraft.

Another batch of 10 A320neos has been picked up by Garuda Indonesia, part of a wider agreement for 25 A320s which will be used to replace the older-variant Boeing 737-300s and -400s at Garuda's low-cost subsidiary airline Citilink. The Garuda deal has been valued at $2.2 billion at catalogue prices.

Garuda's order followed another from Asia, after Taiwanese carrier TransAsia Airways placed a firm order for six A321neos.

TransAsia already operates five A321s and a pair of A320s and has a further six sharklet-equipped A321s awaiting delivery. An engine selection for the new aircraft is yet to be made.

The airline plans to use the aircraft to meet growing demand on regional services, especially on direct routes between Taiwan and mainland China.

While the A320neo will be fitted with the Airbus-developed "sharklet" wingtip as standard, JetBlue could also be in line to launch a new retrofit winglet for older baseline A320s.

Airbus has committed to a winglet retrofit programme and intends to make the winglets available from 2013. The airframer claims the modification will provide a 3.5% improvement in range.

Over at Boeing, European low-cost operator Norwegian has ordered another 15 Boeing 737-800s, taking to 78 the number it has ordered from the US manufacturer.

Norwegian has also firmed its order to buy three Boeing 787s, first agreed in May.

Bjorn Kjos, chief executive at the airline, said: "It is a fantastic airplane [737], it is absolutely the best in class. We have to invest for the future and it has the lowest emissions in its class to date." He added that he was pushing the airframer to produce an all-new 737 replacement. "Boeing has to build a completely new model with considerably lower fuel burn. I am lining up in the queue telling Boeing to build a new aircraft."

Elsewhere MAS signed for 10 more Boeing 737-800s, confirming existing options from a 2008 deal.

It takes MAS's total 737 orders to 45 aircraft - the airline retains 10 options remaining from its original deal.

Russian carrier Aeroflot meanwhile ordered a further eight Boeing 777-300ERs during on day two of the show, while GECAS ordered a pair of Boeing 747-8 Freighters. The 747-8Fs will be delivered in 2014.