European group Airbus lost the crown of the world's biggest maker of airliners to US giant Boeing last year, but did better than expected and has enjoyed big sales this year, it says.
Publishing results just as Boeing was hit by a crisis of confidence in its 787 Dreamliner plane following a series of incidents, Airbus said last year it delivered 588 aircraft to 89 customers, a record after 534 deliveries in 2011.
The company said its catalogue prices had climbed by an average of 3.6 per cent since January 1 in light of the fuel savings that clients could expect from the use of lighter composite materials and new wing designs.
Plane orders are almost always negotiated at a discount to the catalogue price.
Sales of the flagship superjumbo A380, the biggest passenger airliner in the world, disappointed last year, coming in at about one third of the target figure after a problem was discovered with tiny cracks in the wings, which Airbus says have now been resolved.
Airbus sold 833 aircraft last year, far more than the initial target figure of 650, chief executive Fabrice Bregier told a news conference near where Airbus is based at Toulouse, southern France.
However, the sales figure was far lower than the record of 1419 in 2011.
Boeing delivered 601 airliners last year and took 1203 orders.
For this year, Airbus expects to take 700 orders, excluding any cancellations, and to deliver more than 600 planes.
The order book now totals 4682 planes, representing about eight years of production work.
Airbus said it also hoped its new long-range A350 aircraft would make its maiden flight in late June or early July.
Bregier said Airbus, the main unit of the giant European aerospace group EADS, had exceeded its targets in terms of new orders booked and of completed aircraft delivered, even though sales of the superjumbo had underperformed.
Airbus had counted on selling 30 of the superjumbos but this target was knocked off course by the discovery of micro-cracks in the wings which cooled some customer interest.
Bregier said the problem had been "resolved" and that he expected Airbus to take 25 orders and to deliver 25 of the enormous aircraft this year.
He also voiced support for Boeing, saying he hoped the 787s grounded this week would soon be back in the air.
"A plane is designed to fly. Even if a good 787 flies we have good solutions to face it. I don't bet on the difficulties of a competitor," he said.
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