Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Airbus Outsells Boeing With 1,036 Net Jetliner Orders: European aircraft maker’s deliveries still lagged U.S. rival’s

 An Airbus A380 at the Paris Air Show last June. The European aircraft maker notched up 1,036 net new orders last year, outselling rival Boeing. 

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
Updated Jan. 12, 2016 6:00 a.m. ET

PARIS—Airbus Group SE on Tuesday said it booked 1,036 net commercial plane orders last year, easily outselling rival aircraft maker Boeing Co.

The Toulouse-based aero-defense group said the value of last year’s net airliner orders was $137.1 billion at list price, though buyers typically get big discounts. Airbus recorded 103 order cancellations last year, mostly as airlines switched from buying older single-aisle planes to the popular newer version of the jet.

Boeing last week said it booked 768 net orders in 2015.

Airbus’s order bookings included three A380 superjumbos added in December after a prolonged dry-spell for the model that can seat more than 600 passengers. Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. is taking the three double-decker aircraft, though some were already built for Japan’s Skymark Airlines in a deal canceled in 2014 over payment concerns. More deals are in the works for this year, says John Leahy, Airbus’s chief operating officer for customers.

Airbus and Boeing have enjoyed a sustained period of growth in order bookings as airlines have flocked to buy new jets to replace older, less efficient models amid steady growth in demand for air travel, notably in emerging economies in Asia and the Americas.

However, concerns are mounting among some industry analysts that a prolonged slump in oil prices and weaker global economic growth in many markets could soften demand for new aircraft. Last year marked the first since 2009 that order intake at Airbus and Boeing fell from the previous year.

For now, the manufacturers remain upbeat.

“This commercial and industrial performance unequivocally proves that global demand for our aircraft has remained resilient.” said Fabrice Brégier, president of Airbus’s commercial plane unit.

Mr. Brégier said low oil prices are helping the bottom line of airline customers, putting them in a better position to buy new planes. Airlines aren’t betting fuel prices will remain low, he said, so are still ready to invest in more efficient aircraft. “The market is very positive,” he said.

Mr. Brégier added that turmoil in Chinese financial markets isn’t affecting demand for airliners, with travel demand still surging.

The two plane makers ended 2015 with a combined backlog of more than 12,000 planes, with planned deliveries of some models stretching beyond 2020. Airbus said its backlog of 6,787 plane orders at the end of last year was an industry record. The deals are valued at $996.3 billion at list prices.

Mr. Brégier said order intake this year should at least match deliveries. Airbus plans to build at least 650 planes this year.

Boeing retained the bragging rights as being the world’s largest plane maker. The Chicago-based company delivered an industry record of 762 airliners last year, far ahead of the 635 planes Airbus shipped.

The European plane maker said its total was a company record and the 13th year running output has risen. Airbus met its goal of delivering more planes in 2015 than the year prior, when it shipped 629 aircraft. The deliveries last year were valued at $91.6 billion at list prices.

Airbus missed some targets it had set itself for 2015, including delivering the first A320neo, an upgrade of its popular single-aisle plane. That handover now is planned for this month after Airbus and engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. , struggled to get documentation completed in time for Deutsche Lufthansa AG to receive the first model.

Airbus shipped only 14 of its new A350 long-range planes against a plan of 15 such aircraft because a supplier was late in delivering parts. Mr. Brégier said Airbus plans to build at least 50 A350 planes this year. That depended on suppliers meeting their goals, though, he said, calling out parts-supplier Zodiac as having to improve delivery. The French company had no immediate comment.

Airbus and Boeing are poised to combine to build even more planes this year. Airbus last year said it is boosting single-aisle plane production to 60 aircraft a month from mid-2019. It currently builds 42 aircraft a month. Mr. Leahy said single-aisle production could reach 63 planes a month around that time.

Airbus builds narrowbody planes in Toulouse, Hamburg and Tianjin, China. This year it will start shipping aircraft from a new facility in Mobile, Ala. The group is also poised to increase output of the Toulouse-assembled A350.

Mr. Leahy said production of the A330, which has fallen amid weak demand, could actually rise again. Airbus is curtailing output to 6 planes a month, though Mr. Leahy said demand was there for building seven or eight of the planes a month.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wsj.com

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