Airbus head of sales John Leahy is boasting that despite the mess that the airframer currently finds itself in, 2006 is already the manufacturer's second best year for sales.

By mid-November, Airbus had taken 619 orders - already a higher tally than every full year in its history other than the record-breaking 1,111 in 2005 - and, at 43% market share, is in the 40-60% range that Airbus has set as a strategic target.

But that is only half the story, as with over 90% of Airbus orders this year being for the single-aisle A320 family models, it is in danger of becoming a one-trick pony. And this after a relatively weak 2005 for the airframer's widebodies, given its rival's showing.

Leahy knows that the order battle with Boeing isn't just about units, and acknowledges that while by this measure he is (just) within his target range, his share of the value is too far adrift of his rival.

Airbus realises it was "caught napping" by the strength of Boeing's 787, and by the recent success of the 777-300ER, which has obliterated any prospects of a Christmas bonus for A340 salesmen for the second year running.

Airbus has just forecast that a third of all deliveries over the next 20 years will be widebodies, with twin-aisles representing over 40% ($1,000 billion) of the market by value. What greater incentive can Airbus need to get its entire twin-aisle product line on a par with its rival?

Source: Flight International