PARIS/SHANGHAI Airbus (AIR.PA) won a $3.8 billion (£3.1 billion) order from U.S leasing company Aviation Capital Group and industry sources said it may land another $4 billion in new business from the leasing arm of China's Bank of Communications (601328.SS).
The trades emerged on the eve of an annual news conference at which Airbus will reveal whether it accumulated the 278 orders needed to maintain a lead over rival Boeing and replenish its own order book, by keeping up with increased deliveries.
Depending on when it was signed, the ACG order brings to over 300 the number of potential orders that could end up on Airbus's order books in December, keeping it ahead in its fierce annual order race with Boeing even though it lags on deliveries.
ACG, the aircraft leasing arm of Pacific Life Insurance, said on Tuesday it had ordered 35 narrow-body jets including 30 of the latest version of the A320 family, the A320neo.
It also ordered two current-generation A320s and three of the existing version of the A321. Such an order would be worth a total $3.8 billion at list prices.
Airbus declined comment ahead of Wednesday's event.
Industry sources said earlier Airbus may win an order for some 42 narrow-body jets from Shanghai-based Bank of Communications Financial Leasing.
The Chinese company did not respond to a request for comment.
Airbus needs to report 278 orders for December to meet a goal of matching its deliveries, which rose by an estimated 8 percent to as many as 688 aircraft last year.
Between January and November, it notched up 410 net orders and 577 deliveries. Its finance chief has predicted more than 670 deliveries in 2016 and at least as many new orders.
In addition to the potential Chinese leasing order, industry sources say Airbus is expected to finalise an order for 72 jets from India's GoAir and has finalised an order worth $6.4 billion for over 60 jets from Saudi carrier flynas.
However, while adding to the 2016 Airbus tally, the Saudi carrier may only be identified separately at a later date.
Airbus is also expected to book at least part of an order for 100 jets from Iran, the first of which is scheduled to leave Europe on Wednesday for a ceremony in Tehran on Thursday.
Boeing said last week it delivered 748 aircraft in 2016 and took 668 net orders for the year.
On Tuesday, it said it had won an order worth $300 million for three 737 aircraft from South Korea's Jeju Air.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta/Ruth Pitchford)