Airbus sold 52 A320 single-aisle jetliners worth $4 billion in an unexpected bounce in plane demand in November, but the name of the airline betting on a recovery in depressed travel demand was kept under wraps.
The deal was part of a total of 74 new sales that included a portion of business reported at the Dubai air show, when Airbus signed a handful of contracts despite a dearth of orders from major Gulf airlines that have spurred much of its growth.
Airbus sold 15 planes at the Nov. 15-19 show, held days before Dubai was absorbed by a financial crisis.
Airbus said on Thursday it had sold a total of 225 aircraft in the first 11 months of the year, falling to a net tally of 194 orders after deducting 31 plane cancellations.
The European planemaker is ahead of Boeing which had net sales of 91 aircraft up to Nov. 24.
But sales of both Airbus and Boeing planes are down sharply this year due to the weak economy and a slump in air travel that has left most airlines' balance sheets severely stretched.
Airbus has a target of up to 300 gross orders in 2009, which most analysts say is beyond reach. But the tally so far this year leaves it closer to the goal than some had predicted.
Airbus also delivered 437 aircraft between Jan. 1 and the end of November, compared with a full-year target of 490 planes.
Deliveries of the A380 superjumbo remain below schedule, however, with no deliveries reported during November and 2009 deliveries still running six short of the full-year goal of 13.
EADS subsidiary Airbus faces both continued production snags and a difficult climate for customer financing and has said it expects to push one or two of the 13 A380 deliveries scheduled for 2009 into the beginning of next year.
Emirates said earlier it would take delivery of two A380s in December.
Airbus earlier this week expressed confidence in the finances and growth plans of Dubai-based Emirates, by far the biggest customer for the world's largest airliner.
In latest available figures for Airbus's U.S. rival, Boeing took orders for 202 new aircraft but airlines cancelled orders for 111 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 24, leaving 91 net sales.
Boeing will update its figures later on Thursday.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan)