Airbus hits Boeing with increase in production targets

Click to follow

Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, yesterday forecast that it would stretch its lead over arch American rival Boeing this year with a 10 per cent increase in deliveries.

Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, yesterday forecast that it would stretch its lead over arch American rival Boeing this year with a 10 per cent increase in deliveries.

Noel Forgeard, Airbus's chief executive, said production would rise from 320 aircraft last year to between 350 and 360 this year, giving the company the lion's share of the market once again. Airbus also forecast that it would win 300 to 350 orders this year, including between 50 and 60 for its new 250-seat A350 airliner, which is due to enter service in 2009.

Speaking at a media conference in Paris, M. Forgeard said: "I am virtually certain that in 2005 we will again exceed deliveries of the competition."

The forecast came as Airbus reported its 2004 deliveries, which give the company 53 per cent of the market and $34bn (£18bn) worth of firm orders for 370 aircraft - 57 per cent of the total. In 2003, Airbus delivered 305 jets and took orders for a further 284.

Airbus's sales success last year was marred by news that it had asked for checks to be carried out on more than 600 wide-bodied A330 and A340 jets after tiny cracks were detected in the wing rib of at least one A340. The two aircraft share a common wing although the A340 is a four-engined plane whereas the A330 is two-engined.

The extraordinary growth of Airbus comes as it prepares to unveil its latest aircraft, the A380 super-jumbo, which will be officially rolled out in Toulouse on Tuesday next week in the presence of Tony Blair and his French and German counterparts, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder.

The A380 is being built with the help of £2.6bn in UK government support but further aid for Airbus and Boeing has now been frozen whilst the European Union and United States seek to hammer out a deal to end aircraft subsidies. Airbus had planned to ask for €1bn (£700m) in support for the A350. M. Forgeard shrugged off reports of weight problems and cost overruns on the A380, which is due to fly for the first time in late March. Firm orders for the aircraft stand at 139 from 13 customers against a break-even target of 250 sales.

Comments