Airbus emerges as leading aircraft maker

Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS at the New Year's press event 2009 in Newport, Wales. EADS photo

TOULOUSE (BNS): Airbus continues to be the undisputed king of the aircraft manufacturers churning out acceptable sales figures in a year that the industry was preparing to forget as a bad dream.

The company delivered 483 aircraft, 30 more than 2007 and bagged around 900 new orders worth $100 billion. This means 54 per cent of the entire business in the 100 seat plus aircraft segment.

While Airbus top brass was satisfied with the results, they are not exactly breaking into celebrations. The company fears it might not be able to repeat the performance in 2009 the deliveries might even slow down for the first time in six years.

Chief salesman of Airbus John Leahy said the number of orders would be somewhere between 300 and 400 and termed it as a ‘soft’ year. It expects the orders to come down by a 66 per cent this year.

Airbus has left rival Boeing behind in terms of delivering number of aircraft. The Boeing could take out only 375 aircraft in 11 months. The dip was essentially due to a shutdown due to machinists strike.

In terms of new orders also, Boeing trails. The US based aircraft manufacturer got 662 net orders, around 100 less than Airbus. Here is how Airbus faired in terms of deliveries: It supplied 386 single aisle A320 family aircraft, 85, A330/340 and 12 A 380s.

Out of the 777 new orders won, 472 were for the popular A320s. The long range aircraft A330 and A340 got combined orders of 138 and 163 new orders were placed for yet to be launched A350 XWB. With this, the backlog for the company has reached a new record of 3715 aircraft in 2008. The performance figures were announced by Airbus CEO Tom Enders at the annual press conference.

Airbus produces 36 single aisle planes every month and eight wide bodies. The company will try to re-adjust the assembly line's rate of production depending on the new orders and the existing backlog.

The company had gone through a rough patch in 2006 and 2007 due to the delays in the delivery of A380 super jumbos. There was a lot of churning in the company which saw five CEOs in two years. The company has emerged from the shadow of the bad year when the A380 almost threatened to become a fiasco.

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