Business World

Thursday 23 January 2020

Airbus flies past rival Boeing to take global plane-making crown

Airbus has been hit by delays in fitting the complex new layouts on A321neo jets assembled in Germany. Photo: Airbus
Airbus has been hit by delays in fitting the complex new layouts on A321neo jets assembled in Germany. Photo: Airbus

Tim Hepher

Airbus has become the world's largest plane-maker for the first time since 2011, after delivering a forecast-beating 863 aircraft in 2019, seizing the crown from embattled US rival Boeing, airport and tracking sources said yesterday.

A reversal in the pecking order between the two giants had been expected as a crisis over Boeing's grounded 737 Max dragged into 2020. But the record European data further underscores the distance Boeing must travel to recoup its market position.

Airbus, which had been forced by its own industrial problems to cut its 2019 delivery goal by 2-3pc in October, deployed extra resources until hours before midnight to reach 863 aircraft for the year, compared with its revised target of 860 jets.

Deliveries rose 7.9pc, from 800 aircraft in 2018.

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Airbus declined to comment on the figures, which must be audited before they can be finalised.

Plane-makers receive most of their revenues when aircraft are delivered - minus accumulated progress payments.

Airbus's tally, which included around 640 single-aisle aircraft, broke industry records, after it diverted thousands of workers and cancelled holidays to complete a buffer stock of semi-finished aircraft waiting to have their cabins adjusted.

Airbus has been hit by delays in fitting the complex new layouts on A321neo jets assembled in Germany, resulting in dozens of these and other models being stored in hangars.

Such out-of-sequence work drives up costs and could have a modest impact on Airbus profit margins. But the impact will be largely blunted by the high volume of planes and already solid profitability for such single-aisle aircraft, analysts say.

Reuters

Reuters

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