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UPDATE 1-Delta to buy 50 wide-bodied Airbus jets - sources
November 20, 2014 / 3:12 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Delta to buy 50 wide-bodied Airbus jets - sources

(Adds analyst quote, details)

PARIS/SEATTLE, Nov 20 (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus has won a crucial order worth roughly $14 billion at list prices from Delta Air Lines for 50 long-haul, wide-bodied jets, three people familiar with the matter said.

The order, to be split between the all-new A350-900 and a recently announced revamp of the current-generation A330, follows a closely fought competition with Boeing.

Airbus emerged as the front-runner in part after it became clear its revamped A330neo could be delivered earlier than Boeing's temporarily sold-out 787 Dreamliner, one of the people said.

Airbus and Delta declined to comment.

"This is bad news for Boeing on a number of fronts," said Leeham Co analyst Scott Hamilton, who first reported the deal.

"They had offered some 777s as a stopgap, so this does not help 777 production. It is also a valuable endorsement for the A330neo," he said.

The A330neo is an upgraded version of Airbus's most profitable wide-bodied jet, the A330, with new engines to make it more fuel efficient.

Airbus had previously won 127 orders or commitments.

Delta said earlier this year it was looking to buy as many as 50 wide-bodied jets to replace ageing Boeing 747-400 and 767-300ER planes. The carrier said it was considering the Airbus A330, A350 as well as Boeing's 777 and 787 models.

It ordered 10 current-generation A330s last year.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy predicted after launching the A330neo at July's Farnborough Airshow that it would benefit Delta, which already profitably operated the A330. But Boeing has said the 1990s core design is no match for its newer 787.

Hamilton added that Airbus would also take heart from the fact that it had sold the all-new A350 to Delta, whose chief executive Richard Anderson has said he prefers established models with less maintenance risk and lower purchase costs.

"It is the first time since bankruptcy that Delta has bought a brand-new airplane model," Hamilton said. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Alwyn Scott, Jeffrey Dastin, Editing by Peter Henderson and Ken Wills)

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