updated 7/10/2006 8:22:49 AM ET 2006-07-10T12:22:49

Airbus won 117 plane orders in the first half of the year, the company said Monday — less than a quarter of the orders announced to date by U.S. rival Boeing Co.

The latest order numbers suggest Boeing is threatening Airbus’ lead. The Toulouse, France-based jet maker is struggling with production delays to its A380 superjumbo, and weak sales of its planned A350 have forced a costly reexamination of the mid-sized jet’s design.

Airbus said it received 96 orders for jets from its single-aisle A320 family in January through June, and a total of 21 for its widebody A330, A340 and planned A350 jets. Boeing got 480 orders between Jan. 1 and July 5, the company says on its Web site.

Both companies are expected to announce further orders at Britain’s Farnborough Air Show, which opens next Monday. Jet makers often put some of their order announcements on hold for major industry events.

Airbus has sold more planes than its U.S. rival for five straight years, but fell behind Boeing on overall order value in 2005 as it sold fewer large, more profitable jets.

Higher oil prices made less efficient four-engine widebody planes like the Airbus A340 less attractive than twin-engine alternatives such as Boeing’s 777.

The A320 family of smaller passenger jets accounted for 82 percent of Airbus orders announced to date this year. Boeing’s single-aisle 737 represented 78 percent of its announced orders.

Boeing has won 69 orders so far this year for its 787, the long-range, fuel-efficient widebody jet due to enter service in 2008 — taking the total of firm orders for the plane to 360.

Airbus took 13 new orders for the A350, billed as a rival to the Dreamliner, during the first half of the year, taking its total to 100.

New Airbus CEO Christian Streiff is expected to announce changes to the A350 program at next week’s air show.

Streiff took over from former CEO Gustav Humbert in a July 2 shake-up at Airbus and its parent company, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. Humbert and EADS co-CEO Noel Forgeard, who also lost his job, shared the blame for the new A380 delays.

EADS shares lost more than a quarter of their value in one day after the seven-month production hitch was revealed in June, prompting questions about communication within EADS and suspect stock sales by directors including Forgeard — currently being investigated by France’s Financial Markets Authority.

On Monday, shares in EADS fell 1.3 percent to 21.42 euros ($27.37) in Paris.

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