Airbus kept its crown as the world's largest jetmaker for the third year running as it outstripped Boeing by delivering 611 jets in 2021, up 8% from the year before.

The numbers gave Airbus an unassailable lead on revenue-generating deliveries - the industry's main yardstick - after Boeing handed over 302 jets in the first 11 months.

After cutting production due mainly to the Covid pandemic, planemakers are seeing more demand for medium-haul passenger jets and freighters, despite global concern over Omicron.

Reuters reported last week that Airbus' auditors, who must validate each delivery, were torn between a tally of 605 or 611 jets after last-minute handovers took the total above an official target of 600.

The outcome confirms the top end of the range.

Airbus said it sold 771 airplanes in 2021, giving a net total of 507 after cancellations, almost twice the 2020 level.

Chief executive Guillaume Faury called this the "first fruits of a recovery" and added that "demand is real".

Boeing is rebounding more slowly as it tackles the aftermath of a 737 MAX safety crisis and negotiates snags that suspended deliveries of its wide-body 787 Dreamliner.

Recent changes in accounting rules and sharp swings in airline fortunes during the Covid-19 crisis have made it harder to compare the underlying performance of the two plane giants.

With Airbus well ahead on deliveries, the winner on new orders depends on which accounting definition for net orders investors prefer when Boeing publishes data later today.

Based on partial 2021 data, Boeing looks set to at least match Airbus on net orders on an adjusted basis after a recent deal with Allegiant for 50 737 MAX that surfaced last week.

For the first 11 months of 2021, orders rebounded sharply to 829 planes but fell to a net total of 400 after cancellations.

On an adjusted basis, Boeing posted 457 net orders by the end of November after partially restoring to its count orders that it at one point had deemed unlikely to materialise.

Barring surprise new orders, the Airbus data suggests Boeing faces a harder task in matching its arch-rival in net orders on an unadjusted basis.