Airbus took in a record number of orders for new commercial aircraft last year as strong demand for its revamped single-aisle plane helped it best fierce U.S. rival Boeing Co. in the race for orders for the fourth year running.
The European jet maker said Tuesday that it took in 1,419 net new orders in 2011, worth $140 billion, well above Boeing's total of 805 aircraft. That topped the previous record of 1,413 net orders recorded by Boeing in 2007.
Airbus also delivered 534 aircraft last year, up from 510 a year earlier and keeping the title of world's biggest jet maker that it has held since 2003. Boeing delivered 477 aircraft in 2011.
Airbus targets around 570 jet deliveries this year including about 30 of its A380 super jumbo, the world's largest commercial jet.
The company has found success with its revamped single aisle jet the A320neo.
It's a modified version of Airbus' existing workhorse jet, the A320, with improved engines and modified wingtips to make it allegedly 15 percent more fuel-efficient than Boeing's 737.
The plane will only start delivering in 2015 but Airbus is using it now to cash in on airlines' need to reduce sky-high fuel costs and cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The jet maker took in 1,226 net orders for the A320neo in 2011, including a single order for 200 of the aircraft worth $18.5 billion from Malaysian budget airline AirAsia.
Airbus' top salesman John Leahy said that the jet maker expects orders for the A320neo to fall to around 650 this year, after Boeing responded with a new version of its best-selling 737 model with a new engine, which it calls the 737 max.
Southwest Airlines Co. will be the first recipient of Boeing's new plane, representing the biggest firm order in the company's history by number of planes - 208 - and by list-price value, at nearly $19 billion.
Leahy cautioned that competition from Boeing's revamped 737 could unseat Airbus from its leadership in the orders race this year. After a market share of new orders of 64 percent last year, "in 2012 we will be down around 50 percent or probably lower than that," Leahy told reporters at the company's annual New Year's news conference.