Airbus has admitted that delays to the A350 programme kept it out of the running for the valued order for Virgin Atlantic long-haul requirement. 

The UK carrier yesterday announced an order for 15 Boeing 787-9 aircraft together with options and purchase rights on a further 28.

Airbus chief operating officer for customers, John Leahy, said the Toulouse-based company had not even put in a proposal for the A350XWB to Virgin, which needs the new aircraft for service entry in 2011. The A350 is not available until 2014.

Speaking at Airbus’ annual technical briefing to journalists, Leahy also revealed that production of the A330/A340 line is likely to increase to 10 aircraft a month from the 9 planned by 2009. Airbus currently manufactures seven aircraft a month and will reach eight a month - seven A330s and one A340 - by year end.

Sales of the A340 have virtually dried up, but sales of the A330-200 have been boosted following the launch of the freighter version in 2006.