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UPDATE 2-Cathay Pacific chooses Airbus over Boeing for freighter order

(Adds CEO statement, context)

Dec 8 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways said on Friday it has placed a firm order to purchase six Airbus A350 freighters with a list price of $2.71 billion, as it replaces its ageing Boeing 747 cargo jets.

Cathay, which has six older model 747-400ERFs and 14 newer 747-8Fs expects the six A350s to be delivered from 2027 and by the end of 2029, it said in a statement.

"These highly fuel-efficient, next-generation freighters will provide important additional cargo capacity, expand our global network and contribute to our sustainability leadership goals," CEO Ronald Lam said.

Under the deal, Cathay has also secured the right to acquire 20 more A350 freighters.

Cathay said it had negotiated price concessions with Airbus to below the list price. Major airlines typically get large discounts from planemakers.

Reuters reported last month that the carrier was favouring Airbus for the widely watched deal.

The selection means Cathay will replace its Boeing 747 fleet with the new Airbus aircraft after several months of postponing a decision.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

Cathay's choice for the next phase of cargo operations was seen as a key test for the two freighters, given the airline operates both Boeing 777 and A350 passenger models.

The Airbus freighters will link Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland coupled with long-haul destinations in North and South America as well as Europe, Cathay said.

Cathay Pacific is the world's fifth-largest air freight carrier and the third-largest traditional freight airline behind Qatar Airways and Emirates when specialist express parcel carriers FedEx and UPS are excluded, according to International Air Transport Association data.

Its aircraft order book also includes 21 Boeing 777-9 passenger planes scheduled to be delivered from 2025 and 49 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft expected to be delivered by 2029. (Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Lisa Barrington in Seoul; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Jamie Freed)

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