Airbus sold 1,608 jets through 2011

Airbus sold 1,608 jets through 2011

HAMBURG - Reuters
Airbus sold 1,608 jets through 2011

A worker is seen in the cockpit of an Airbus jet in Montoir-de-Bretagne. REUTERS photo

European planemaker Airbus posted record orders of 1,608 aircraft in 2011, or a net total of 1,419 after cancellations, and predicted rival Boeing would catch up with strong sales in 2012.

The tally includes more than 1,220 A320neos, a revamped 150-seat workhorse launched just over a year ago and which prompted Boeing to update its own best-selling jet as the 737 MAX.

Airbus said it had delivered 534 aircraft in 2011. The 5 percent rise from 2010 comes as both Airbus and Boeing plan further increases to meet demand from emerging markets.

Although Airbus won the annual order race with Boeing by a record margin, its surge was curtailed by an unexpected decision to downgrade the way it accounts for a key order for 130 aircraft from bankrupt American Airlines.

American Airlines parent company AMR went into Chapter 11 in November, months after splitting an historic 460-plane order between Airbus and Boeing. Under U.S. bankruptcy law, the $40 billion mega-order is on hold until a court reaffirms it or cancels it.

Airbus auditors ruled against including the AMR order in the official backlog until the court makes its decision, possibly not until next year. Airbus said the airline had expressed confidence, however, that the order would go through.

Boeing last week reported 921 sales in 2011, or a net total of 805 when adjusted for cancellations, and 477 deliveries.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy said he expected Airbus orders to fall back to 600 or 650 in 2012 and suggested Boeing could win the order race for the first time since 2006.

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