NEW YORK (Reuters) - Europe’s Airbus expects to maintain A380 superjumbo deliveries at 25 to 27 aircraft in 2012, unchanged from this year, as production edges up to three planes a month, sales chief John Leahy said.
Airbus delivered 19 of the world’s largest airliner, which has a list price of $375 million per plane, in the first 10 months of 2011.
“This year we’re in that range, 25 to 27” in terms of deliveries, Leahy said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference in New York organized by Credit Suisse and Aviation Week.
“Next year should be in the same range.”
Airbus has sold 238 of the double-decker 525-seat jets and delivered 60 of them.
Sales have been dominated by Gulf and Asian airlines but Leahy, who is approaching the 10,000th aircraft order since taking charge of Airbus sales in 1994, was optimistic about the chances of ending a dearth of A380 sales in the United States.
“Everyone in Asia-Pacific has A380s now... If you want to compete in Asia-Pacific, at some point in time United is going to have to get on board with the A380,” he added.
Airbus and Boeing are battling over a potential order from United Continental Holdings for 150-seat jets which people familiar with the talks have said could lead to a deal for as many as 180 planes.
Leahy suggested a decision may be more likely early next year than late this year but referred questions to the airline. “If they want to sign tomorrow, I’m ready,” he said.
Leahy also said on Wednesday that AMR Corp’s AMR.N American Airlines has been clear that it intends to confirm its plane contracts with the EADS EAD.PA unit.
Leahy added that he expects the U.S. carrier, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, to dump older, less efficient planes more quickly as it restructures.
“I think you’ll see a faster renewal of their fleet,” Leahy told the conference.
This year, American placed a split order for 460 single-aisle jets worth up to $40 billion with Airbus and Boeing. Bankruptcy could jeopardize parts of the order that are not firm.
Asked about recent financial difficulties at Airbus customer Kingfisher Airlines KING.NS, Leahy said the Indian airline was on an improved path.
“Kingfisher is one of our good customers,” Leahy said. He added that Chairman Vijay Mallya was bringing in new management and understands the need to drop unprofitable routes.
“We have high hopes that he’ll get things sorted out,” Leahy said. “He needs to be more focused and he’s now doing that.”
Cash-strapped Kingfisher, controlled by liquor entrepreneur Mallya, has struggled to raise funds and canceled hundreds of flights in November.
It delayed A380 orders indefinitely and industry sources said it was set to cancel two remaining orders for the A340, a four-engined aircraft that Airbus has meanwhile decided to stop making.
“There are no orders that are at risk in the production cycle,” Leahy said.
Kingfisher has orders for five A350-800s, a variant of the future mid-sized A350 that Airbus has not yet started producing.
The carrier, India’s third-largest airline by market share, said last week that U.S.-listed Dutch lessor AerCap Holdings NV (AER.N) would take back two of its aircraft in coming months as the two sides could not agree on extension terms.
Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Phil Berlowitz