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Airbus orders surge in November but lag Boeing

By Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus confirmed on Friday it had sold 186 aircraft in November, putting it on the verge of meeting its goal for the full year but failing to close a gap with rival Boeing .

Between January and November, Airbus sold 646 aircraft, or a net total of 585 after adjusting for cancellations.

Airbus delivered 516 aircraft in the same period.

The European planemaker announcement confirms figures reported by Reuters on Monday.

Airbus has set a target of 650 plane sales in 2012.

It also aims to sell more planes than it delivers, a milestone that it reached in the first 11 months of the year.

Airbus is poised to lose its crown as the world's largest planemaker to Boeing this year as the U.S. company catches up with demand for a new type of fuel-saving medium-haul jet.

Demand for the revamped A320neo handed Airbus a record 64 percent market share in 2011, but Boeing has raced past its rival in 2012 with strong sales of its competing 737 MAX.

When 2011 and 2012 years are combined, analysts say the two aircraft planemakers are expected to maintain a roughly equal share of the $100 billion global passenger jet market.

The two planemakers are locked in an advertising war fuelled by conflicting claims about the merits of the upgraded aircraft.

Boeing sold 1,156 jets between January 1 and December 4 and took cancellations for 104, leaving net orders of 1,052, according to latest available data on the company's website.

Boeing delivered 537 aircraft in the first 11 months.

Airbus last lost the annual order race in 2006 and has outdelivered its rival for the past nine years.

November's new business for the EADS subsidiary is worth at least $16 billion at list prices and includes 100 orders for Airbus A320-family jets from an undisclosed buyer.

It also includes a final agreement to buy 36 single-aisle planes from China Aircraft Leasing Company, provisionally announced at the Farnborough Airshow in July.

Confirmation of business from a new Chinese leasing buyer came as sources familiar with the matter said a Chinese group was in talks to buy U.S. giant International Lease Finance Corp in a sign of the sector's fast growth.

Boeing said on Thursday customers had canceled orders for six planes worth nearly $2 billion, and booked orders for two planes worth $700 million at list prices.

The company didn't identify which customers had canceled or placed the orders. In a tally, Boeing showed cancellations for five 747 jumbo jets and a 767. The new orders were for two 747s.

(Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott)

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