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Orders for the Airbus A320neo medium-range aircraft continued to pour in Tuesday as airlines snapped up early delivery slots for the plane that promises a significant reduction in fuel burn.
So far Tuesday, Airbus has booked orders for 121 aircraft from the A320 family of single-aisle commercial jets at the Paris Air Show that started June 20. Airbus booked orders for 142 aircraft on Monday. The 263 aircraft booked over the first two days represent a value of $26.1 billion at list price, and bring to 594 the number of orders booked by Airbus since it launched the A320neo program in December.
Airbus had predicted that its order book for the A320neo would swell to at least 500 by the time the air show ends later this week.
Airbus claims that the A320neo, planned to enter into service in 2015, will offer 15% fuel reduction compared to current versions of the plane.
Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. NV (EAD.FR), also announced Tuesday that it will start offering fuel-saving winglets as a retrofit to existing A320 aircraft starting in 2013. Winglets improve the aerodynamic characteristics of an aircraft's wing, reducing drag.
Tuesday's announcements include memorandums of understanding for 50 A320neos from CIT Group Inc. (CIT), a U.S. aircraft leasing company, one for 40 aircraft from JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) of the U.S., one with Garuda Indonesia for 15 standard A320s and 10 A320neos, and a firm order from Taiwan-based TransAsia Airways for six re-engined versions of the stretched A321. Garuda is also taking options for another 25 aircraft.
JetBlue said it has also decided to defer delivery of eight A320s from 2014-2015 to 2017 to smooth out aircraft deliveries. JetBlue currently has 52 A320s on order, and said it intends to convert 30 of those to larger A321s.
JetBlue will also be the launch customer to get winglet retrofits on its existing fleet of A320s.
The four airlines that announced orders Tuesday so far haven't announced engine selections.
-By David Pearson, Dow Jones Newswires; +33 1 4017 1740; firstname.lastname@example.org