Airbus beats Boeing on deliveries, is set to lose on orders
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Airbus beats Boeing on deliveries, is set to lose on orders

Airbus beats Boeing on deliveries, is set to lose on orders

The latter part of last year saw carriers take advantage of low prices to make landmark orders

Airbus cemented the title of world’s largest plane maker for the third straight year with 611 jetliner deliveries, though it’s on track to lose the contest with Boeing Co. over orders.

The European plane maker beat its own handover target by 11 planes, leaving its US competitor in the dust. Jefferies estimates that Boeing, which is due to report year-end figures on Tuesday, transferred 337 new aircraft to customers in 2021.

While Airbus won the deliveries race, Boeing is poised to take the orders crown. Airbus racked up 771 gross sales for the year, short of the 829 its US rival had at the end of November. Airbus got commitments from customers including Indigo Partners the final part of the year but some orders didn’t make it onto the books before year-end.

The figures show the extent to which Airbus’ recent success depends on its flagship A320-family of aircraft, with 483 of the model delivered in 2021, or almost 80 per cent of the total.

The close-fought orders battle between the two plane makers signals a return to the traditional competitive landscape for plane deals. This had been upended, firstly by the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max after two fatal crashes, and then by a flood of pent-up demand for the US narrowbody as it returned to the market.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Airbus was on course for about 610 deliveries for 2021.

Order battle
The latter part of last year saw carriers take advantage of low prices to make landmark orders, including Indigo Partners’s deal for 255 Airbus narrowbodies and Akasa Air’s order for 72 of Boeing’s 737 Max planes, both inked at the Dubai Air Show in November.

The recent order race has seen several carriers flip from one manufacturer to the other as Boeing and Airbus compete on product, availability and price. Air France-KLM and Qantas Airways both opted for Airbus in December despite relying on Boeing in the single-aisle aircraft segment, though Qantas won’t convert its vote into a firm order until later this year.

Last week it was announced that Las-Vegas based Allegiant Travel Co. had ordered new Boeing planes after previously buying used Airbus aircraft, with the order likely to count in December’s tally, according to Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu.

For 2022, the diverging fortunes of airlines mean the manufacturers continue to compete for sales from carriers that are in the best financial shape.

Outstanding contests include a potential narrowbody order from IAG, after the carrier failed to commit to an outline deal for 200 Max aircraft made back in 2019. Delta Air Lines could also order more planes and has said it sees a potential place for the 737 Max in its line up.

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