European aircraft manufacturer Airbus sold more commercial planes than its U.S. competitor Boeing in 2003, beating the Chicago-based company in the race for top seller for the first time. While Boeing only sold 281 planes, the lowest number since 1996, Toulouse-based Airbus found buyers for about 300 jets. The company plans to release the exact number next week. Airbus has also overtaken Boeing in terms of new orders: While the European manufacturer still has about 1,500 planes on the books, including 129 double-decker A380 at $265 million (€208 million) a piece, its American rival is down to 1,112 orders. In 2002, Boeing had sold 381 planes, a year earlier 527. The company has laid off more than 30,000 employees in its commercial airplane sector over the past years. Boeing Chief Executive Phil Condit resigned from his position over scandals in the company’s defense and aerospace divisions last December.