Airbus beats Boeing with 1,055 orders

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The Independent Online

Airbus claimed a transatlantic victory over Boeing yesterday, saying it won more orders in 2005 than its arch rival.

Airbus, which is owned by a European consortium of the Franco-German aerospace group EADS and Britain's BAE Systems, received 1,055 new aircraft orders last year compared with Boeing's figure of 1,002. Airbus also delivered 378 planes in 2005, compared with Boeing's 290.

The figures surprised the aviation industry, which had expected Boeing's aggressive sales drive last year to succeed in topping Airbus for the first time since 2000.

2005 was a record year for both companies, and is expected to be the peak of the present ordering cycle. It was fuelled by the launch of key new aircraft, strong demand from low cost carriers, the rapid growth of aviation in Asia, in particular in China and India, and also by the high oil price, which is placing an ever greater premium on the fuel efficiency of new aircraft.

Gustav Humbert, Airbus' chief executive, said: "We saw very aggressive pricing from Boeing in 2005 but you can see we could match it and improve profitability."

While Airbus trumped Boeing in numbers of orders, the US company came out on top in value of orders, as it sold a significantly higher number of larger, more expensive aircraft such as its 777 and 787 models.

Industry watchers also pointed out that it was difficult to analyse the two performances, because companies can employ wide discretion in deciding when to count an aircraft order as official. Boeing said: "We don't play the numbers game so we are not surprised that our competitor came out with the bigger number. We wouldn't trade our position for anyone."