Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets sit idle on the tarmac at Paine
Field in Everett, Washington. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
Boeing recaptured the crown as the world's largest maker
of passenger jets last year, overtaking Airbus for the first
time in a decade as it recovered from delays on its new
Dreamliner 787, only to face new problems with the grounding of
787s over battery safety concerns.
"I honestly wish all the best to my colleagues at Boeing to
get this aircraft back into service, because an aircraft is
designed to fly," Airbus's chief executive Fabrice Bregier
told a news conference on the EADS subsidiary's sales.
The world's dominant planemakers compete agressively for a
roughly equal share of the $100 billion civil jet market,
though their fortunes have see-sawed in the past two years as
first Airbus then Boeing racked up orders for fuel-saving
International regulators joined the United States on Thursday
in suspending flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner while the
risk of fire on lithium-ion batteries is investigated
following two incidents in the past week.
The 787 is the first commercial jet to use the lightweight
but powerful batteries, which discharge a large amount of
energy to support an increasing array of electrical equipment
on modern aircraft but must be shielded from the risk of
Airbus executives defended the use of lithium-ion batteries
on the company's A350 passenger jet which is currently in
development, saying its rival to the Dreamliner is designed
The 787 relies on electrical power rather than traditional
hydraulic and pneumatic systems for a larger number of
aircraft systems, experts say.
Boeing has said it is confident its 787 is safe but is
reviewing the plane's design and assembly together with the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Airbus said it remained confident of achieving the maiden
flight of its A350 carbon-composite airliner by mid-year,
despite problems with some suppliers including Spain's
Alestis and fuselage parts maker Spirit Aero Systems of
EADS's shares were up 4 percent at 33.79 euros by 1315 GMT
Thursday, the second-biggest gainer in France's blue-chip CAC
40 index. The stock has gained around 14 percent this month
after adding 22 percent last year.
Airbus said it had booked 914 gross orders during 2012 as
Boeing caught up with demand for revamped medium-haul jets,
selling exactly the same volume for one model alone.
Airbus had won the previous year's order race by a record
margin and had been expected to draw a sharp response as the
planemakers waged a two-year contest to win orders by
offering airlines significant fuel savings over earlier
Adjusted for cancellations, Airbus had 833 net orders.
Gross orders stood well ahead of the company's 2012 target of
650 jets but compared with Boeing's comparable figure of
1,339 new aircraft, giving Airbus a market share of 41
Boeing led on net orders with 921 aircraft.
"What goes up eventually comes back down," said Airbus sales
chief John Leahy, adding that Airbus had won 52 percent of
the market over a two-year period.
In remarks likely to inflame competition with Boeing in the
largest segment of the market, Leahy said Airbus aimed to
keep its current 62 percent share of orders for the latest
revamped medium-haul planes, the A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.
Boeing has signalled it draws the line closer to 50 percent.
The Airbus 2012 figures were closely in line with estimates
of more than 900 orders and a market share of 41 percent
reported by Reuters after a late surge allowed Airbus to
narrow the gap with Boeing.
Airbus also confirmed it had delivered 588 aircraft in 2012,
up 10 percent from the previous year and above target. But it
was outpaced by Boeing's total of 601 planes delivered.
For 2013 Airbus set a target of more than 600 deliveries and
700 gross orders. Senior executives said they were confident
they would continue to flatten out any volatility in
deliveries by juggling customers and jets in the order book.
On specific models, Airbus missed its target of 30 orders for
the A380 after the discovery of wing cracks a year ago
shortened the life of certain parts and forced the company to
come up with costly repairs. Instead, it sold nine
For 2013 it predicted a slowdown in A380 production to 25
aircraft as it makes the transition to a permanent solution
for the wing defects, blamed on manufacturing and design
flaws that were initially addressed by a temporary repair.
It expected deliveries to pick up above 30 in 2014, and
officials said they should be able to sell 25 A380s in 2013.
Airbus exceeded an informal target of 300 current-generation
A320 narrowbody plane orders as it strives to ensure
production will be maintained during the switch to a
revamped, fuel-saving A320neo version between 2015 and 2017.
The 305 "A320ceo" orders included a last-minute deal for 60
aircraft with an unnamed Asian customer.
Executives expressed confidence in avoiding any dip in
production for their best-selling model -- seen as a crucial
objective as the A320 family generates cash for larger
Airbus, which has accused Boeing of stimulating a price war
to win deals, said it was satisfied with its own pricing.
Boeing has made similar remarks about its pricing. Industry
sources privately say recent competition has been intense.
Airbus said on Thursday that it had increased the average
list prices of its aircraft by 3.6 percent from the start of