Airbus's chief salesman insists that the open slots for the A380 in 2015 are not evidence of a weakening appetite for the type.

Chief operating officer customers John Leahy is maintaining his target to sell 25 of the double-deck jets this year, as Airbus embarks on a new advertising campaign for the aircraft.

"There's a lot of demand for the A380," Leahy says. While parent company EADS recently admitted having open slots for the type in 2015 - the year in which it hopes the A380 will break even at production level - Leahy is unconcerned, indicating that the number of slots is as low as two.

He says he will "stick by the forecast" for A380 sales this year, adding: "The bigger the aircraft, the longer the sales campaign takes."

Airbus has secured 262 orders for the A380 but the need to fix wing-rib brackets has dragged on the sales momentum.

But Leahy insists that carriers will need to turn to larger aircraft to handle climbing passenger numbers at slot-constrained airports.

"[They're] not going to be able to do that just by doubling the number of flights," he says.

Airbus has yet to secure a US customer for the A380, but Leahy points out that US passengers have been exposed to the aircraft by foreign operators. He adds that US carriers will need the aircraft if they "want to be competitive, especially on the Pacific".

Source: Flight Daily News