Airbus lags Boeing in 9-month plane orders

European planemaker Airbus won less than half as many aircraft orders as Boeing in the first nine months of the year as its U.S. arch-rival benefited from a surge in demand for its new fuel-efficient single-aisle model.

Airbus sold 437 planes in the period from January to September, compared with 962 for Boeing between January 1 and October 2. After cancellations, Boeing outsold Airbus by 879 to 382, based on the latest figures published by both companies.

Boeing also outpaced Airbus in terms of deliveries, with 436 planes handed over to airline and leasing customers against 405 for Airbus. This was helped by a doubling in deliveries of Boeing's delayed carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner in the third quarter to 12.

The fresh data show Boeing is on course to reclaim the top spot in commercial aircraft production from Airbus this year. The U.S. group lagged Airbus on deliveries for the ninth year in a row last year.

Boeing's market share sank to its worst level in the history of its 40-year rivalry with Airbus in 2011 as it took longer to decide on a strategy to meet demand for more fuel-efficient single-aisle jets in response to Airbus' new A320neo.

But the arrival of the 737 MAX is helping Boeing accelerate ahead of Airbus this year, with overall orders rising to 404 in the third quarter from 36 in the second as it logged 377 sales of the new model.

Airbus' new business in September included follow-on orders for 10 A330-300 long-haul aircraft from Philippine Airlines and 10 A320neo planes for an undisclosed customer. Dublin-based lessor Aircraft Purchase Fleet Ltd also bought two A320s.

Airbus last month reaffirmed its sales target of 650 gross orders this year, with sales chief John Leahy saying the planemaker was "on track to do at least 650, hopefully a bit more".

He reiterated then that it was becoming tougher to reach its target of selling 30 A380 aircraft, although Airbus was on track to deliver 30 of the superjumbos this year.

Airbus said on Friday that it had delivered 17 A380s in the nine months through September.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford and Christian Plumb)