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Airbus has record year in aircraft orders, trails Boeing in deliveries

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European aircraft maker Airbus captured a record number of orders for new commercial jets last year, taking in 1,503 orders worth $225 billion.

Airbus soared past Chicago-based rival Boeing Co.'s total of 1,355 aircraft.

But the company trailed behind Boeing’s 648 deliveries last year. Airbus said it had delivered a total of 626 aircraft in 2013, up from 588 in 2012.

The two companies are neck and neck in the large jet market, with each looking for even the smallest of financial gains over the other. They continue to find eager customers with new airliners that promise to cut down on fuel costs.

The big seller for Airbus was the upcoming A320neo, which is a new fuel-sipping version of its bestselling single-aisle jet, the A320. Airbus plans on delivering the first one in 2015.

During 2013, the company had the first flight of its A350 XWB jet. The wide-body plane, which is made largely with lightweight carbon fiber, has been beset by lengthy delays. But test flights are progressing and several key tasks have been completed and two aircraft have accomplished over 800 flight hours.

Certification is targeted for the third quarter in 2014 and entry to service is planned before the end of the year.

The production increase should bode well for Airbus suppliers in the United States, more than 100 of which are in California. The company said it spent $14 billion in investments and supplier contract work in the United States last year.

Airbus Americas now has about 1,200 U.S. employees. Last year, the company broke ground on a final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., to build its bestselling A320 family of jets. The planes assembled there will compete directly with those made by Boeing.

Aircraft assembly is planned to begin in 2015 with a targeted 2016 delivery of its first A320 jetliner. At full capability, the assembly line and associated facilities will employ 1,000 people.

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