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Cathay Pacific orders 21 Boeing 777-9X

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Tim Hepher

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Boeing Co has won an order from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd for 21 Boeing 777X jets, valued at more than $7 billion at current list prices, the U.S. company said on Friday.

Boeing shares rose 1 percent to $136.68 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange after news of the order, which confirmed a potential deal earlier reported by Reuters.

The deal provides Boeing with a coveted Asian customer for the latest version of its most profitable long-distance passenger jet.

The 777X, due for launch in 2020, will be a derivative of Boeing's top-selling wide-body plane with new wings and engines.

Cathay Pacific expects to take delivery between 2021 and 2024, the airline said.

Industry sources said Cathay Pacific would also increase its fleet of Boeing's existing model, the 777-300ER, by three or four aircraft to meet its medium-term needs. Boeing declined to comment and Cathay Pacific was not available to comment.

Boeing launched the 777X at the Dubai Airshow last month, where it garnered a record 259 orders and commitments worth $95 billion at list prices from five Gulf and European airlines.

Reuters reported that Boeing was also closing on a sixth deal with Cathay for around 20 aircraft.

The company is yet to decide where to build the 777X, which is expected to be its only new jetliner programme for the next 15 years along with the narrow-body 737 MAX jet due in 2017.

Union workers in Washington, where Boeing currently builds 777 planes, rejected a contract offer last month, leading the company to consider other places.

Cathay Pacific shares closed up 1.5 percent on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The deal is worth $7.9 billion based on Boeing's published list price for the 406-seat passenger jet but Cathay Pacific said in a filing that the basic price was $7.464 billion.

Airlines however typically pay much less for aircraft after discounts which are particularly attractive for early customers.

Boeing and Airbus are competing for potential orders of large twin-engined passenger jets designed to seat 350-400 people, which have put pressure on larger four-engined planes.

Dubai's Emirates has so far dominated the launch with 150 provisional orders which Boeing is trying hard to finalise before the end of the year, according to industry sources.

Qatar also tentatively agreed to buy 50 of the aircraft. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has placed a firm order for 25.

There were conflicting indications over the size of the first European order for the new aircraft.

Lufthansa has said it ordered 34 of the 777X family of aircraft but Boeing's latest order tally shows only 20 of these as firm orders on its backlog.