European airframer Airbus has, as expected, failed to repeat its recent successes in its annual battle with Boeing having secured net orders for 790 aircraft in 2006, against 1,044 for its US rival – giving Airbus a market share of 43%.

Airbus declared its total at a press briefing in Paris today. The manufacturer gained gross orders for 824 aircraft. It is also claiming 434 deliveries with a combined value of €26 billion ($33.5 billion). Boeing delivered 398 aircraft.

The European firm struggled against Boeing during the first half of last year but made up ground in the second half, although this was largely due to strong Airbus A320-family sales.

Airbus has been relatively weak in the widebody market owing to the winding-down of A300 production, poor sales of the A340, and last year’s uncertainties over the A380 and A350 programmes.

Chief executive Louis Gallois, speaking at the Paris event, said: “Contrary to expectations 2006 was an outstanding year for the industry as a whole.”

He says that, despite being unable to market the A350 owing to its late industrial launch, Airbus has turned in an “excellent” performance.

Gallois adds that Airbus will be able to mount a stronger challenge against Boeing this year, stating: “It will be different in 2007.”

EADS has today issued a warning that Airbus would make a loss this year owing to one-off payments related to customer settlements, charges over the A380 project, and the company’s new ‘Power8’ efficiency scheme.

Kieran Daly predicted Airbus would hit 40% in the 2006 orders race. Read his blog.