Airbus flies ahead of Boeing with record 2011 orders
Despite success, the European company wants to 'remains to stay in a stable duopoly' with its American competitor.
Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 05:10 AM
HAMBURG, Germany — Europe's Airbus said on Jan. 17 it outgunned American rival Boeing in 2011, winning a dominant two-thirds market share with a record number of aircraft orders and expected clear skies ahead.
Airbus delivered a record 534 planes, beating Boeing for the ninth consecutive year, said the firm's commercial director John Leahy.
In 2011, it won a record 1,419 orders, including 26 A380 superjumbos.
In contrast, the company's great rival Boeing won 805 new orders, giving Airbus a 64 percent market share, Leahy said.
But Leahy said the firm was unlikely to maintain that level of dominance.
"It isn't our goal to end up where Boeing was in 1995 with 81 percent of the market. Our goal remains to stay in a stable duopoly between 40 and 60 percent of the market," he told reporters.
Leahy said market share would likely return to the 50-percent mark in 2012, as Boeing readies its new fuel-efficient 737 MAX for delivery in 2017.
Airbus had a total of 4,437 orders on its books at the end of December — an industry record — worth some $588 billion (464 billion euros).
Leahy said the firm had enjoyed particular success with the A320 NEO medium-haul plane, which the firm says burns 15 percent less fuel than the standard A320 — a crucial factor for airlines at a time of high oil prices.
Airbus won 1,226 orders last year for the new plane, which will be delivered from 2015, and 1,256 orders in total since the programme took off in December 2010.
"No program in the history of aviation has ever sold that many, that fast," said Leahy.
Total Airbus sales in 2011 came to $140.5 billion or 54 percent of the global market. Airbus has higher production costs than Boeing and has splashed out more in research and development, notably for the NEO.
Looking forward, Leahy said he thought Airbus could navigate smoothly through the turbulence the global airline industry faces.
Demand for planes will continue to grow given that passenger numbers tend to double on average every 15 years, he said.
"It was a tough year for the world economy but traffic has grown by six percent," he said.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Airbus parent company EADS, Tom Enders, also saw a bright future for the firm.
"With a solid backlog and an excellent cash position, we are well prepared for the future," he said.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition