By Kyle Peterson
LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) - Boeing Co's <BA.N> 747-8 Intercontinental, the new elongated passenger version of its legendary jumbo jet, made its international debut on Sunday, under cloudy skies after a half-hour delay due to wind.
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The new model has 467 seats, 51 more than its predecessor, but fewer than the 525-seat A380 made by EADS <EAD.PA> unit Airbus.
"We've seen a great deal of interest in the last six to eight months as the market has gotten better," Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president of marketing at Boeing's commercial division, told Reuters.
The plane features a new red and orange livery to symbolize the importance of the fast-growing Asian aircraft market.
Boeing has taken 33 orders for the 747-8 Intercontinental, which will be joined in Paris on Monday by the better-selling freighter version of the plane, which has received 76 orders.
Boeing flew its first 747 -- the largest commercial plane it makes -- 42 years ago. Since then, the plane with the distinctive hump has become the world's most recognizable plane.
The 747 was the world's largest airplane until 2005, when Airbus unveiled its A380.
The 747-8 Intercontinental competes with the A380. The upgraded plane promises to burn less fuel and offers more passenger comfort. The plane also boasts new wings, a new tail, state-of-the-art engines and a new cockpit.
The Intercontinental lists at $317.5 million. Germany's Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> has ordered 20 of the planes, and is set to be the first airline to bring the new jumbo into service early next year. Boeing says a VIP customer will take first delivery of an Intercontinental in the fourth quarter of this year.
Production of the new 747 has been delayed as has the mid-sized 787 Dreamliner, a carbon-composite plane, which represents a bigger leap in technology than the revamped 747-8.
The Paris Air Show is the venue of choice for aerospace and defense companies to strut their stuff, to the delight of aviation enthusiasts around the world.
(Editing by Geert De Clercq)