updated 1/17/2007 7:19:44 PM ET 2007-01-18T00:19:44

Airbus lost the annual battle for plane orders to Boeing Co. for the first time in six years on Wednesday, posting 790 net orders for 2006 versus its rival's 1,044.

Airbus said it had stayed ahead of the U.S. firm in planes delivered, with 434 aircraft versus 398 deliveries by Boeing.

Louis Gallois, co-Chief Executive of parent firm EADS and head of Airbus, said Airbus expected to deliver 440 to 450 planes this year.

He also announced that Airbus had formally approved plans to build a new freight version of its A330-200 airliner.

Gallois underscored that 2006 was a record year for Airbus deliveries and Airbus's second-best outing in orders. However he acknowledged that Airbus had been hurt by surging sales of Boeing's 787 model due in 2008.

He also said the value of Airbus's orders -- which increasingly rely on smaller, less expensive models -- had slipped to 40 percent of the market based on list prices for 824 gross orders. Boeing's gross tally was 1,050.

Airbus had 2006 revenues of approximately 26 billion euros, Gallois told a news conference.

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