Airbus aims for at least 80 A350 orders in 2013

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Airbus expects to book orders for at least 80 Airbus A350s this year, some of which are expected to be announced at the Paris air show in June.

The airframer's chief executive Fabrice Bregier says that Airbus is aiming to book orders for about 750 aircraft this year, including the A350s.

"We probably will have A350 orders at Paris," he tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of an industry luncheon in Washington DC today. "We already had 410 aircraft orders in the first three months," he adds, citing the fact that Indonesian carrier Lion Air's order for 234 aircraft announced earlier this year had helped to boost the numbers.

Including the new orders to be booked this year, Airbus expects to have a backlog of over 5,000 aircraft by year-end, says Bregier.

The airframer plans to conduct the first flight of the A350 in three months, likely after the Paris air show, Bregier says.

Earlier this year, Airbus announced orders for the A350 from two lessors - CIT Group and Air Lease Corporation (ALC). CIT placed a firm order for 10 A350-900s while ALC signed a firm order for 25 A350s, comprising 20 A350-900s and five A350-1000s.

Bregier says that Airbus believes it will have the lead with the A350-1000 over Boeing's proposed 777X. He points out the the A350-1000's entry into service date is 2017.

Boeing has not said when the 777X will enter service, but the General Electric GE9X that will power the aircraft type is not scheduled to be certificated until May 2018. There is usually at least a one year gap between engine certification and an aircraft's entry into service.

"For a few years, we will take the lead," says Bregier.