Delta Air Lines Inc. is poised to start replacement of its widebody fleet, and will likely decide by the end of the year whether to go with Boeing Co.'s popular 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350 XWB, a top Delta executive said at the Paris Air Show.

We do need to make a decision really by the end of this year on the 767 replacement, because we will need to start taking those in 2013-2014, said Jim Whitehurst, Delta's chief operating officer, in an interview at the Paris Air Show.

Delta, which emerged from a spell in bankruptcy earlier this year, is still weighing up the competing planes, according to Whitehurst.

We have been waiting until the numbers are fully firmed up (on the A350), he said. We will be assessing the 787 versus the A350 as we go forward this year.

The Wall Street Journal Online reported earlier on Tuesday that Delta is set to order as many as 125 Boeing 787s this year, worth about $20 billion at list prices.

A spokesman for Boeing, reached at the Paris Air Show, said the company does not comment on speculation about future orders.

(Additional reporting by Nick Zieminski in New York)