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Airbus reshuffles large American Airlines jet order

The name of Airbus Group is reflected in a window during the Airbus Group 2013 annual results presentation in Toulouse February 26, 2014. RE
The name of Airbus Group is reflected in a window during the Airbus Group 2013 annual results presentation in Toulouse February 26, 2014. RE

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus took 78 orders in April but remained behind Boeing in the battle for new business after a relatively quiet month dominated by the reshuffling of existing orders, data released by the European planemaker showed on Wednesday.

The planemaker unit of Airbus Group said it had received 236 orders up to the end of April and cancellations for 94, bringing its net order total for 2014 to 142 aircraft.

U.S. planemaker Boeing has said it booked 335 gross orders and 288 net orders up to April 29.

Airbus data reflected some reallocation of an order from American Airlines for 260 Airbus A320-family planes in 2011.

That deal, a record at the time, was due to be split equally between versions of the revamped A320neo family and the existing generation of Airbus medium-haul jets known as A320ceo.

The transaction was so big that Airbus also originally agreed to arrange for half of the 260 jets to be supplied by leasing companies from planes already in the market, but the new data suggested it will supply some of the leasing quota itself.

American has converted 30 orders for the A321neo, the largest version of the series, to the existing A321ceo.

In addition, 41 aircraft that were originally due to have been supplied by leasing companies - 23 A321ceo and 7 A319ceo - now appear as direct purchases from Airbus. There was no immediate sign that this meant an increase in American's fleet expansion plans, which also include a large order from Boeing.

The 2011 American deal forced Boeing to follow Airbus' strategy by revamping its 737 jets with new engines rather than waiting for a more ambitious redesign of its most-sold jet.

The massive fleet overhaul was complex not only because of its size but because the airline was at the time under bankruptcy protection.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy told Reuters last year some of the jets due to be supplied to the U.S. airline on its behalf by lessors would be supplied directly instead.

The reshuffle came as U.S. leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp, which is due to be taken over by Dutch-based AerCap , canceled orders for 9 A321ceo aircraft.

Airbus's order tally was boosted by an internal sale of six A330 long-distance jets to its military division for conversion into aerial refueling tankers.

Airbus delivered 193 aircraft between January and April including six A380 superjumbos. In the first quarter, the latest period for which Boeing delivery data is available, the U.S. company delivered 161 passenger aircraft.

(Additional reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Brian Love and James Regan)

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