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Airbus speeds deliveries, books key Chinese jet order

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Airbus is seen at the entrance of its factory in Blagnac near Toulouse

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) -Airbus deliveries accelerated in October to reach 497 airplanes so far this year, or an underlying total of 495 after excluding two Aeroflot deliveries cancelled due to Western sanctions against Russia, the planemaker said on Tuesday.

Airbus delivered 60 jets in October, up from 55 the previous month. It still has what most analysts have called a stretching but broadly achievable task to reach a target of 700 deliveries in 2022, following problems with tattered global supply chains.

"Airbus is going to have to match 2017 (201 deliveries for the two months remaining), 2018 (216) and 2019 (215 aircraft)," Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa said in a note to investors.

"None of those years were much fun in production and management terms".

Within the total deliveries so far this year, wide-body deliveries were robust, he added, underscoring recent signs from manufacturers and leasing giant AerCap of a recovery in a segment of the market that has long been in the doldrums.

Airbus also posted 177 new orders in October or 163 after the rejigging of a new order from British Airways owner IAG, which placed an expanded order for 59 aircraft that superseded an earlier batch of 14 single-aisle jets.

Airbus also booked an order for 40 jets from traditional Boeing operator Xiamen Airlines, which had provisionally added Airbus as a supplier in September in a sign of Beijing's apparent tilt towards Europe amid tensions with Washington.

China watchers said the airline's decision to loosen its dependence on Boeing was viewed as particularly symbolic after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the cockpit of a larger Xiamen 787 on a visit to Boeing's Seattle-area factory in 2015.

Boeing declined comment on the order, whose publication coincided with the first day of China's Zhuhai Airshow.

The update comes on top of existing orders for 140 jets re-announced by China last week in what experts described as an effort to showcase a visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

However, that appeared to catch both the planemaker and German officials by surprise as Scholz sought to play down new deals amid domestic concerns that Berlin would prioritise economic ties over security and other strategic matters.

The Xiamen deal brought Airbus orders so far this year above the 1,000 mark. After 223 cancellations, its 1,033 gross orders fell back to a net total of 810 in the first 10 months.

Boeing earlier said its deliveries fell in October as it faced quality issues, while orders rose as the U.S. planemaker continued to see strong demand for new aircraft.

So far this year it has booked 664 new orders or 550 after cancellations and before accounting adjustments.

Boeing, which is in the midst of recovering from a 737 MAX safety crisis and industrial problems on the 787, said it had delivered 363 jets in the first 10 months of the year.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Josie Kao)