Airbus beats Boeing on sales

EUROPEAN airliner consortium Airbus Industrie, for which BAE Systems makes the wings, last week announced that in 1999 it won more orders than its US rival Boeing for the first time.

Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said the latest good Airbus results were achieved `while significantly improving our margins’. He was responding to Boeing’s claim that Airbus sales had been achieved by price discounting.

Forgeard urged Airbus partners to transform Airbus into a private, single corporate entity. He said this was `not an extra advantage but a necessary condition for the future’.

Airbus said the 476 firm orders received last year, worth £18.5bn, made up 55% of all airliner orders announced, giving Airbus its highest ever market share. Boeing had 391 airliner sales, including more than 100 `confidential’ orders, announced in December.

Forgeard said Airbus only counted orders for which a firm contract had been signed, a down-payment made and, where required, government approval obtained.

Airbus’ 1999 orders included 408 A320 family regional airliners, giving it 58% of all orders placed in the 100-200 seat category, and 68 long-range A330 and A340s. It also won 103 firm commitments.

Airbus delivered 294 planes last year, giving a £10.18bn turnover, its highest. Boeing delivered 620 airliners.

Last year’s figures bring the total of Airbus aircraft delivered to 2,188, worth £73.65bn, leaving a backlog of 1,445 planes worth £61bn.

This represents over four full years of production at increasing production rates. Since the end of 1994 the backlog has more than doubled, Airbus said.