Airbus's chief salesman is confident that the airframer will match or better last year's A380 order tally in 2012 as it endeavours to consistently sell at least as many of the ultra large airliners as it delivers.

"I've told Tom [Enders, Airbus CEO] that I'm going to sell 30 A380s this year," said chief operating officer for customers John Leahy. "Thirty is a good number because we're going to try to keep the book-to-bill ratio at at least one or better."

Airbus secured gross orders for 29 A380s in 2011 from two existing customers, Lufthansa and Qatar, as well as three new ones: Asiana (six), Hong Kong Airlines (10) and Skymark Airlines (six). However, the net order total declined by 10 units due to the cancellation of International Lease Finance's (ILFC) long-standing contract.

Last year, Airbus delivered 26 of the double-deckers, and is expected to deliver "28 or 29" in 2012, said Leahy.

Boeing's rival 747-8I began to make more in-roads in 2011, securing two new customers. Arik Air placed a firm order for two aircraft and an undisclosed customer - believed to be Hong Kong Airlines parent Hainan - placing commitments for 15.

Industry sources suggest that Boeing's aggressive marketing of the 747-8I has been hampering Airbus's efforts to achieve better pricing on new A380 deals, but Leahy denies this. "Not at all," he said. "If you give away a dog, it's still a dog."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news