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Airbus upbeat on Latam sales; no talks on A380 in region

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[March 25, 2014]  By Felipe Iturrieta

SANTIAGO (Reuters)  Airbus <AIR.PA> believes it can eventually drive its Latin American market share up to 65 percent, although it is not in talks to sell its A380 superjumbo in the region, the company's Latin American president told Reuters on Monday.

Airbus, the world's second-biggest planemaker, has outsold rival Boeing <BA.N> in the region in recent years and its market share was now 61 percent of aircraft sold, or 51 percent of planes flying, Rafael Alonso said in a interview ahead of Santiago's FIDAE airshow.

"We're thinking that we are going to carry on increasing that presence," he said. "We could reach 65 percent."

Alonso was upbeat on 2014 plane sales, saying that they could reach triple digits in what he said was "a very cyclical market." Airbus sold 56 planes in Latin America in 2013, and 100 in 2012 and 2011.

But the company is not currently in talks to sell its superjumbo A380 in the region, said Alonso. The world's largest passenger jet, which has had patchy sales since entering into service in 2007, was a centerpiece of the exhibits at FIDAE, a large Latin American-focused air show that takes place every two years.

"At the moment we're not in talks, but we think it's a plane that has space in the region. Certain routes merit it...perhaps in four or five years there will be companies looking at it," he said.

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The region is a key battleground as planemakers expect strong growth over the next two decades, second only to the Middle East. Airbus projects passenger traffic in the region could expand around 7 percent in 2014.

That translates into a need for a likely 2,300 planes over the next 20 years, Alonso said at a news conference earlier on Monday.

(Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; writing by Rosalba O'Brien; wditing by Andre Grenon and Lisa Shumaker)

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