European planemaker Airbus outpaced its fierce rival Boeing in 2010, delivering a record 510 new aircraft. It was a boom year for the consortium, which also celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Airbus has had success with its A380 super-jumbos
Airbus on Monday announced it had held onto its place as the world's biggest plane maker, outpacing its rival Boeing by delivering a record 510 new planes in 2010 - the 40th anniversary of the European consortium.
Airbus also celebrated the sale of its 10,000th plane with a $5-billion (3.8 billion euro) order from Virgin America.
The deliveries surpassed the previous one-year delivery record, giving Airbus 52 percent of the world market share last year, ahead of its US rival.
At the same time, the company booked orders for 574 planes, more than double the previous year’s figure.
"2010 was all in all a rather good year," Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said at the company's Toulouse headquarters.
CEO Enders said performance was 'better than expected'
Enders put the annual turnover volume for Airbus at around 30 billion euros ($39 billion). He added that it had been "better than expected 12 months ago."
The value of the latest plane orders was alone worth around $74 billion.
The deliveries last year included 401 medium-range A320 aircraft and 18 super-jumbo A380s.
In comparison, Boeing delivered 462 new aircraft last year, a four percent drop from the year before. It was hit by cancellations due to delays to its 787 Dreamliner.
It's the eighth year in a row that Airbus has delivered more planes than its US rival.
Airbus and Boeing are both recovering from an industry recession which saw combined demand for their planes fall by more than two-thirds as passenger and cargo traffic plummeted.
But Airbus sales chief John Leahy said he was confident about the future:
"These figures show the economy is improving," Leahy said on Monday. "We have dodged the bullet on a double-dip recession. Aviation is growing again because of Asia, low-cost carriers and emerging markets."
With business performance expected to remain strong in 2011, Airbus is planning to hire 3,000 more employees, the company announced. It hired 2,200 new employees last year, taking its workforce up to a total of 52,000.
For 2011 the company target is to deliver between 520 and 530 planes.
"With plenty of challenges, especially in our development programs, we'll have to work hard to further improve and also make 2011 a successful year for Airbus," Enders said.
Author: Joanna Impey (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner