Airbus tops Boeing deliveries in ’08 but predicts soft ’09

European aircraft maker Airbus once again took top spot in global airliner production for the sixth year running in 2008, with a 7 per cent rise in deliveries, to a record 483 planes. Deliveries comprised 386 A320 family aircraft, 85 A330s/A340s and 12 A380s. Its US rival, Boeing, delivered 375 planes in 2008 after a […]


A320 A330 A340 A350 A380 Airbus aircraft Boeing production


European aircraft maker Airbus once again took top spot in global airliner production for the sixth year running in 2008, with a 7 per cent rise in deliveries, to a record 483 planes. Deliveries comprised 386 A320 family aircraft, 85 A330s/A340s and 12 A380s. Its US rival, Boeing, delivered 375 planes in 2008 after a machinists’ strike halted commercial aircraft production for 58 days. Airbus booked 777 net aircraft orders in 2008, down from 900 after 123 cancellations, topping Boeing’s 662 net orders, but like its rival reported a significant drop-off from the previous year, when it recorded 1,341 net orders. The 2008 orders, valued at US$100 billion, comprised 472 A320 family aircraft, 163 A350s, 138 A330s/A340s and nine A380s. The manufacturer noted that it had a 54 per cent market share for aircraft over 100 seats and called its 2008 performance “a remarkable success in a difficult year”. Airbus’ total backlog stands at 3,715 civil aircraft – 2,598 A320 family aircraft, 932 A330/340/350s and 185 A380s–valued at US$438 billion and the equivalent of six years of full production, the group said. John Leahy, chief commercial officer for Airbus, said Thursday that while the crisis in global aviation could bottom out by midyear, it would take longer for airlines to resume renewing their fleets. ¡°We are predicting that world traffic will be essentially flat between 2008 and 2009,¡± Leahy said. ¡°In the first half of this year, we’ll have a drop-off, and in the second half there¡¯ll be a recovery. The worst will be over by the end of summer and we will see a glimmer of hope and a recovery starting for aviation,” he said Thursday. Leahy predicted a “relatively low¡± number of new aircraft orders in 2009, at the bottom end of the 300 to 400 range down sharply from almost 900 in 2008. “It is looking like a very soft year this year,¡± he added. Meanwhile, the European airframe manufacturer began construction on the A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse Thursday, with president and CEO Tom Enders saying the manufacturer “is making steady progress” on the A350 programme and is on track “for first delivery in 2013.” To-date, Airbus has sold 478 of the type to 29 customers. Enders said during a news conference that multiple delays on the A380 programme “taught us some tough lessons” that will be valuable going forward. COO Fabrice Bregier conceded that Airbus will face unexpected “problems” in A350 development and manufacturing, but insisted that it has “changed the mindset of our people” from the A380 program’s development and early manufacturing period. “Then the company was plagued by an atmosphere in which workers and officials insisted to senior management that “there is no problem” when in fact there were numerous trouble spots, he said. Now all workers have been instructed to “tell us the truth [and] warn us of problems. We [will] know what’s going on because people know we expect the truth.”