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Planemakers race for wide-body orders in Asia showdown

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Via Reuters Finance

(Reuters) – Airbus and Boeing are battling for wide-body aircraft orders worth well over $10 billion as the clock ticks towards next week’s Paris Airshow, industry sources said.

An Airbus A330neo is pictured on its final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Colomiers, near Toulouse, France, November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

The contests include a fight for business at Philippines budget airline Cebu Air as Airbus seeks a new foothold for its slow-selling A330neo airliner in the face of competition from Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

The budget carrier is leaning towards breaking its exclusive ties with Airbus by selecting the Boeing 787 for its requirement for up to 16 wide-body jets to be delivered in 2020 and 2021, but negotiations are set to go down to the wire, the sources said.

None of the parties agreed to comment on any confidential aircraft negotiations.

Airbus is urgently looking for at least two new buyers for the upgraded A330neo model, while wrestling with some glitches and delays in production for the 250-300-seat aircraft.

Cebu Air has eight older versions of the A330 wide-body and a fleet of smaller A320-family aircraft.

Airbus is close to signing a deal to sell A330neo jets to Virgin Atlantic, Reuters reported last week.

Asian carriers are looking to renew their long-haul fleets as passenger demand remains robust despite a decline in cargo traffic amid global trade tensions.

Boeing looks set to win an order for its upcoming 777X long-haul jet from Korean Air, industry sources said.

The South Korean flag carrier declined to comment.

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Korean Air Chief Executive Walter Cho said last week a decision on the future of the carrier’s wide-body fleet would be made “imminently”, but declined further comment.

Airbus has meanwhile poached a senior air finance executive from a unit of General Electric (GE) to oversee the reorganisation of its sales financing operations in the latest evidence of a shake-up under new management, people familiar with the matter said.

Paul Meijers, until recently president of PK Air Finance, a debt financing unit of GE’s aviation leasing arm GECAS, will be responsible for an enlarged operation combining the key areas of asset management and leasing market operations.

Airbus declined to comment. Meijers, who had previously worked for the European planemaker, could not be reached for comment.

Reporting by Tim Hepher, Neil Jerome Morales, Heekyong Yang; Editing by Mark Potter

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