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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Falling demand for Airbus planes
Airbus A319 in operation by Qatar Airways
Demand for smaller planes such as the A319 has been strongest
There has been a steep fall in the number of new Airbus planes ordered so far this year, leaving the firm trailing behind arch rival Boeing.

New aircraft orders dropped to 117 in the first six months of the year, down from 276 for the same period in 2005.

Boeing secured 487 orders during the period, up from 439 last year.

Negative publicity surrounding delays to the A380 is thought to have hurt Airbus, but analysts said they expected orders to pick up later this year.

Farnborough effect

Airbus is expected to unveil a host of new deals with airlines at the Farnborough Air Show later this month, having announced 320 orders at last year's industry showcase in Paris.

AIRBUS ORDERS
January-June 2006: 117
January-June 2005; 276
2005 as a whole: 1,111

Nevertheless, the sales figures will be a disappointment to the firm which achieved record orders in the first half of last year.

The firm was damaged by its admission in June that technical problems involving the A380 would lead to a seven-month delay in its delivery.

The firm's managing director, Gustav Humbert, quit his job after heavy criticism of the way he handled the setback.

BOEING ORDERS
January-June 2006: 487
January-June 2005: 439
2005 as a whole: 1,029

The head of EADS - the aerospace firm which controls Airbus - was also forced to resign after criticism about the way the problems were disclosed to shareholders and controversy over share dealings.

There have been no new orders for the A380 this year, with most interest surrounding single-aisle aircraft such as the A319 and A321.

Global battle

Despite the drop in orders, Airbus delivered more planes over the period, handing over 219 planes to its customers compared with 189 last year.

Airbus and Boeing are vying for global supremacy in the booming civil aviation market.

Airbus overtook Boeing in 2003 in terms of total orders but analysts expect Boeing to overhaul its rival this year.

Earlier this month, Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy said that he expected the firm to maintain its lead over Boeing despite the difficulties with the A380.




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