UPDATE 1-Airbus says it could sell more than 1,200 jets in 2013
BARCELONA, Spain, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Airbus could sell more than 1,200 aircraft in 2013 after exceeding its full-year goal of at least 1,000 in the first nine months, sales chief John Leahy said on Monday.
Japan Airlines earlier announced an order for 31 Airbus A350s including 13 of the largest variant, the 365-seat A350-1000 model, buying aircraft from the European manufacturer for the first time.
Shortly afterwards, Leahy told an industry conference: "We have an internal target of 1,200 (orders) but I think we could even do a little better than that," although he said no new formal target had been set.
Airbus posted 1,112 orders between January and September.
Airbus and Boeing are locked in a battle for orders in the lucrative 'mini-jumbo' sector for aircraft between 300 and 400 seats, and traded competing claims for their latest models at an ISTAT industry conference in Spain.
Lufthansa has opted for a revamped model of the Boeing 777 with 400 seats and analysts expect major orders for the jet from Gulf carriers around November's Dubai air show.
The size gap has led to speculation that Airbus could increase the size of the already stretched A350-1000 again to add more seats.
Airbus has so far ruled this out and Leahy said there were no plans to do this any time soon, although he did confirm for the first time in public that Airbus had considered the option.