A surge in sales to Middle Eastern and Gulf states has helped keep the aerospace industry out of a free-fall as a major international airshow comes to an end.

France's Airbus says it sold almost 250 planes, worth more than $38 billion during the Farnborough Airshow in Britain, while U.S.-based Boeing says it sold almost 200 planes worth more than $23 billion.

The combined sales were better than some economists had expected, but cash-strapped airlines from the United States and Europe were not big buyers.

Most of the demand came from airlines based in the Persian Gulf, like Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways which placed a combined $20 billion in orders with the two companies.

Aircraft leasing companies also placed orders, hoping soaring oil prices will prompt airlines to lease planes instead of incurring the costs of maintaining them.

Other big buyers include Saudi Arabian Airlines, FlyDubai, South Korea's Asiana Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Air China.

Some economists say the Middle Eastern airlines may be trying to help establish their home countries as new focal points for international air travel.

Earlier this week, the Fitch ratings agency warned rising energy prices could push multiple U.S. airlines into bankruptcy.

The International Air Transport Association told the Bloomberg news agency that total global airline loses could surpass $6 billion this year.

Both Airbus and Boeing have been trying to bring attention to their newest planes, designed to be more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient.