Boeing Signals Strong January Orders

February 6, 2012

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Boeing started the year ahead of Airbus in orders, as it tries to regain leadership of the aviation market for the first time in six years in 2012.

Airbus, which has outsold Boeing in 10 out of the past 11 years and has delivered more passenger jets since 2003, said on Monday it had sold 91 aircraft in January, with no cancellations.

Boeing sold 150 aircraft in the same month including 122 jets to Norwegian Air Shuttle, it said last week. After two cancellations, that means a net total of 148 aircraft.

The two plane makers are wrestling for control of the market for narrow-body 150-seat jets that serve as the backbone of many airlines. The market is valued at USD$2 trillion over 20 years.

Last year, Airbus beat Boeing by the widest ever margin in their annual order race. It grabbed 64 percent of new orders due mainly to massive demand for its A320neo, a revamped version of its best-selling A320 to be fitted with new fuel-saving engines.

Boeing had lagged Airbus by about a year in deciding on similar modifications to its 737, making 2011 an unusually weak year for its share of the USD$100 billion annual jet market.

But in 2012 it has vowed to bounce back with sales of the upgraded 737 MAX and Airbus acknowledges it may come second.

After those see-sawing sales, analysts say the world's dominant makers of passenger jets are likely to revert to a roughly equal share of the market as the new fuel-efficient designs blunt challenges from China, Canada and Russia.

According to company forecasts, 2012 could also be the year in which Boeing re-establishes itself as the world's largest commercial plane maker by delivering more aircraft than Airbus.

Boeing has predicted a strong upswing in deliveries of 585 to 600 jets in 2012 from 477 in 2011 as it catches up on delayed deliveries of its flagship 787 Dreamliner, many of which are parked outside its Everett, Washington, production plant.

Boeing said on Sunday it had found flaws on the rear fuselage of three of its undelivered 787s, driving shares in the company down more than 1 percent.

It said the problem would have no impact on plans to lift production from 2.5 a month now to 10 a month by the end of 2013, but analysts said the lower share price reflected concerns among some investors that it would achieve a smooth increase.

In January, Boeing delivered 38 aircraft including two 787s for launch customer All Nippon Airways, which now has five of the carbon-plastic jets in service.

Airbus delivered 37 jets including one A380 superjumbo that went to Singapore Airlines, bringing the worldwide operating fleet for the world's largest airliner to 68.

Deliveries have not so far been affected by the discovery of small cracks in A380 wing components, which Airbus blamed on a combination of manufacturing and design errors

Airbus targets 570 deliveries in 2012, up from 534 last year.