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 15 planes sold at the Dubai air show, held amid a dearth of regional orders days before the Gulf emirate was shaken by a financial crisis.
Airbus (EAD.PA) 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.
A further 14 aircraft sold to Air New Zealand on the eve of the Dubai show have yet to show up in the order book.
The European planemaker is ahead of Boeing (BA.N) which had net sales of 91 aircraft up to Nov. 24.
Boeing took orders for 202 new aircraft but airlines cancelled orders for 111 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 24, leaving 91 net sales. Boeing was due to give an update later on Thursday.
Airbus has a target of up to 300 gross orders in 2009, which most analysts say is beyond its reach. But the tally so far this year leaves it closer to the goal than some had predicted.
India's Kingfisher Airlines (KING.BO) cancelled one wide-body A340-500 order in November, Airbus data showed.
Sales of civil aircraft are down sharply compared with 2008 due to the weak economy and a slump in air travel that has left most airlines' balance sheets severely stretched.
Passenger travel demand rose in October but freight demand continued to fall, airlines body IATA said this week, indicating the global economic recovery remains fragile.
As for deliveries which drive parent EADS (EAD.PA) revenues, Airbus handed over 437 aircraft in the first 11 months of 2009, compared with a full-year target of 490 planes.
Deliveries of the A380 superjumbo remain below schedule, with no deliveries reported during November and cumulative 2009 deliveries of seven A380 still six short of the full-year goal.