Airbus orders plunged by more than half in the first six months of the year as confusion over its product range robbed the company of wide-body sales throughout the second quarter.
In a dark day for the European aircraft-maker, it also emerged that a French shareholder association has filed a class-action lawsuit over the recent share collapse at its parent company EADS.
The Toulouse company - a major source of work for West Midlands aerospace firms - revealed yesterday it had sold 117 aircraft between January and June, down from 276 in the same period last year.
Deliveries, however, rose to 219 planes from 189.
Airbus has been lagging behind rival Boeing for some months as airlines wait for a relaunch of the long-range twinjet A350, which has been heavily outsold by the Boeing 787.
Airbus hopes to launch a new version of the A350 that also addresses slow sales of the four-engine A340 before next week's Farnborough Air Show.
It has not sold any of its wide-body aircraft - the A330/340/350 family nor the twice-delayed A380 super-jumbo - since March, according to Airbus figures.
Airbus has sold a total of 96 single-aisle planes so far this year.
Boeing posted 480 net orders as of July 5.
In the first half of 2005 it sold 441 aircraft and delivered 155.
The class action suit was filed in the Netherlands, where the Airbus parent group is registered.
The move comes amid reports that the French government is drawing up legislation to allow similar collective legal action, which was pioneered in the United States, in France despite opposition from the country's MEDEF employers' group.
The Association of Active Shareholders said it had taken part in a Haarlem court filing alleging "disastrous financial consequences" for shareholders when EADS shares fell 26 per cent on June 14 in the wake of delays to the A380 superjumbo.
A class action is a court action launched by one person on behalf of other people sharing the same grievance.
The association said shareholders had been duped by financial communications at EADS as it discovered bottlenecks in the wiring assembly process on the A380 aircraft.
French regulator AMF is investigating the group's communications as well as share trading by senior executives.