EU's Airbus beats Boeing for fifth year.

Airbus beats Boeing for fifth year

Mark Tran
Tuesday January 17, 2006

Giant: the EU's Airbus A380.

Airbus won more aircraft orders than Boeing in 2005, maintaining its edge over archrival Boeing for the fifth year running, it emerged today.

The European consortium, which makes the wings for its aircraft in the UK, received 1,055 new aircraft orders last year compared with Boeing's figure of 1,002.

Airbus, in which Britain's BAE Systems holds a 20% stake - the aerospace group EADS owns the rest - also delivered 378 planes in 2005, compared with Boeing's 290.

Last year was the fifth year running that Airbus has outsold Boeing in terms of orders, while the third year in a row it has led in deliveries.

Both Airbus and Boeing saw record order books for 2005 as airlines signed up for new aircraft such as the Airbus A380 superjumbo, the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing, however, claimed the lion's share of the top end of the market and Airbus had to concede defeat in the overall value of jets ordered. Airbus said its gross orders of 1,111 planes (before cancellations) were worth $95.9bn (54.2bn), but estimated that Boeing had taken 55% of the total market by value.

"We are pleased to have maintained our lead in terms of market share," said Airbus's president and chief executive, Gustav Humbert. "But, more importantly, we continue to increase our production output, based on a backlog never seen in history, which secures work for the next four to five years at very high production rates."

Airbus orders were driven mainly by sales of cheaper, single-aisle models to budget airlines, while Boeing won several deals for larger aircraft.

The US manufacturer had a record year for its twin-engined long-haul 777 and trumped Airbus's planned mid-sized A350 with strong sales of its new 787 Dreamliner.

Although Airbus narrowly held on to its lead over Boeing in terms of orders last year, it is trailing its rival for 2006. At the end of November Airbus had just 678 orders for the year to date, well behind Boeing's 827.

Airbus is particularly concerned at Boeing's success with the 777, which competes with the A340. Airbus has won only 15 orders for the A340 whereas airlines have placed 154 orders for 777 models.

Mr Humbert said he wanted to catch up with Boeing in long-range and wide-bodied jets within two years.

"We have to take the next two years to really come up to the same 50-50 level of orders of long-range and wide-bodied aircraft," he said.

The Airbus order backlog rose to 2,177 aircraft worth $220.3bn from 1,500 at the end of 2004. Mr Humbert told reporters the return on sales came in at a "ballpark" level of 10%, compared with 9% in 2004.

For 2006, Airbus saw margins staying above 10% with continued cost cutting efforts.

"We saw very aggressive pricing from Boeing in 2005 but you can see we could match it and improve profitability," Mr Humbert said. "There was a big pressure on prices in 2005."
With a maximum passenger load of 840 seats, the Airbus A380 will be the largest airliner in the world for a time. There are bigger aircraft but not airliners. (external - login to view)
This is a really close race!
The A380 is massive and is a cool idea but that new Boeing is pretty sweet as well. Should be interesting to see how the competition plays out.

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