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Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the A350, and is due to receive the first jet in the second half of 2013. Half of the 80 A350s that Qatar Airways has ordered would be affected by the delay.

“This will dent our expansion and fleet placement program,” he told reporters. “It is very disappointing to us,” he said.

“Also we hope that the performances that they are today talking about is the right information and it will do what Airbus says that the airplane will do,” he said.

Airbus’ first big order Monday was from GE Capital Aviation Services, for 60 A320neo jets, a version of the workhorse jet revamped to be more fuel efficient.

Airbus has booked 390 orders and commitments for the A320neo since its commercial launch last December _ even though it won’t come into service until 2015 _ from airlines squeezed by higher fuel prices.

Boeing hasn’t yet chosen how it will respond, but top marketing executive Randy Tinseth said it would decide in the coming months whether to upgrade its existing 737 model or design a whole new plane, which wouldn’t be in the air until the end of the decade.

Qatar Airways announced an order for six Boeing 777 planes in a $1.7 billion deal at the start of the show Monday.

Boeing and Honeywell are both boasting of having the first biofuel-powered trans-Atlantic flight, with Boeing flying in its 747-8 freighter from Seattle on a mix of biofuel and jet fuel, while Honeywell touts the “green jet fuel” it developed to power a Gulfstream business jet that flew from New Jersey to Le Bourget.

EADS will also demonstrate the world’s first diesel-electric hybrid aircraft at the show, another leg in its strategy of cutting its fleet’s carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

Skyrocketing fuel costs are a major issue for Airbus and Boeing customers, who will see their profits plunge to $4 billion this year from $18 billion in 2010, according to a forecast by the International Air Transport Association.

Given the fierce competition, Sarkozy defended European governments’ support for France-based Airbus. “Aviation is a strategic sector that the state should not lose interest in,” he said in opening the show.

Airbus edged out Boeing at last year’s Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K., racking up deals totaling $13.2 billion, while Chicago-based Boeing’s commitments came in at $12.8 billion.

Those results were a big improvement over the results of the last Paris Air Show in 2009, when many airlines closed their checkbooks in the wake of the global financial meltdown.

Before the event, Airbus had taken in 176 gross orders this year, compared with Boeing’s 183.

Based on 2010 deliveries, Boeing is the world’s No. 2 commercial jet maker after Airbus. Airbus delivered 510 commercial planes last year, compared with 462 for Boeing.

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