Airbus outsold its rival Boeing almost two-to-one in 2011 and delivered more aircraft than the US planemaker for the ninth year running.
However the Europeans admitted they may struggle to keep the top spot for orders this year.
Airbus has benefited from growing demand from Asia and the Middle East for airliners and, for the time being, that has insulated one of Europe’s largest industrial employers from the region’s downturn.
It received net orders totalling 1,419 against Boeing 805.
Chief executive Thomas Enders said rising oil prices helped boost its order books: “It has been a pretty good year. The main reason for our great success in sales was obviously that we offered a new version of the A320, the A320 neo, with considerably less fuel consumption and — guess what? — in a world where oil prices go up and up, the airlines need fuel efficient aircraft and that is behind our roaring success in 2011.”
Airbus said it expects to deliver 570 planes this year, up from 534 last year but believes it could lag behind Boeing on orders.
It says 40 percent of its 2012 deliveries will be to airlines in Asia or the Middle East as that market expands.
Enders said: “Flying in the past happened literally only in North America, western Europe and south-east Asia: that’s about one billion people, but the emerging markets — that’s about five billion people — and this is where aviation is just about to pick up, so there is a huge potential and that really is the source for our strong optimism in aviation.”
Along with the announcement of record deliveries and orders there was — surprisingly — no word on Enders’ expected promotion to head Airbus’ parent company EADS. Reportedly there are tensions between French and German state shareholders on this, but the man himself was coy: “I need to be very diplomatic on that one, and it’s really not on me, it’s the board of directors who make a decision, and believe me, I have one of the most wonderful jobs in the industry, certainly in Europe, being the CEO of Airbus, and there are worse problems than being the CEO of Airbus.”
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