European aircraft maker Airbus says a record year saw it sell and deliver more jets than US rival Boeing, maintaining its market dominance.
Airbus and Boeing dominate the global market for large jets
Airbus said it had captured a 51% share of new orders during 2005, with 1,055 compared with Boeing's tally of 1,002.
The manufacturer said it had also delivered more planes last year - 378 compared with Boeing's 290.
The figures surprised many analysts, who had expected Airbus to lose its lead in new plane orders.
Profit margins up
Both Airbus and Boeing benefited from a buoyant air travel market in 2005, with air passenger numbers rising by 7.7% in the first 11 months of the year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Together with rising fuel prices, the increase in traffic encouraged airlines to invest in more new fuel-efficient aircraft.
Airbus admitted that it had lost ground to Boeing in the market for larger, wide-bodied planes, where the US manufacturer sold 455 planes to its 193.
Boeing's 777-200LR broke distance records in 2005
Bosses indicated that the company might review its A340 model, which only sold 15 models as of 30 November, compared with Boeing's rival, the 777, which took 154 orders.
As a result, Boeing won the larger proportion of the passenger jet market in terms of value, with a 55% share.
"This is not a major crisis... but we can do better in this area," said chief executive Gustav Humbert.
He said that Airbus revenues had hit a record of 22.3bn euros (£15.3bn), a 12% increase on 2004.
Profit margins were also up, at about 10%, compared with 9% in 2004.
Humbert said that one of the priorities for 2006 would be to keep improving profitability.
"We are not aiming at market share for market share's sake. One percent extra profit means much more than 1% extra market share."
Record order book
Airbus' backlog of orders now stands at a record level of 2,177 aircraft, giving it a 55% market share by volume and 53% by value.
Airbus took 172 orders for the A380 in 2005
The company is ramping up production schedules to tackle its order book, having already boosted deliveries by 18% to a new record of 378 aircraft last year.
Mr Humbert said Airbus was now producing eight large, wide-bodied jets and 30 single-aisle jets each month.
The company said it was currently on target to meet its production schedule for the new A380 super-jumbo.
The first aircraft would be delivered to Singapore Airlines before the end of 2006, with Qantas and Emirates taking delivery in spring 2007.
Airbus is 80% owned by aerospace group EADS, with the rest owned by BAE Systems.