Airbus is working on finalizing another “significant order” for the Airbus A380 soon, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy tells Aviation Week. Leahy is hopeful a memorandum of understanding (MOU) can be signed before the end of the year with the commitment turned into a firm order in 2013. Leahy declined to identify the customer and the exact number of aircraft under discussion.

Airbus is far short of its own sales target of 30 A380s in 2012. So far, it has recorded only a firm order for four aircraft from Russian airline Transaero. Leahy says, however, that an MOU for five aircraft signed by Singapore Airlines earlier this year will still appear in the firm 2012 order book, with the two sides working on the last contract details.

Leahy expects demand for the A380 to pick up in 2013 and “certainly” in 2014, once the large legacy carriers leave the current downturn behind them. “How else are we going to double RPKs in the next 15 years?” Leahy asks, other than by using larger aircraft. “The future is still with the A380.”

Airbus has a backlog of 165 A380s from 19 airlines and one VIP customer. Production is sold out until the end of 2015, when the first two open slots are available.