Boeing beats Airbus again with record aircraft orders

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The Independent Online

Boeing celebrated a second successive year of market dominance over Airbus yesterday by announcing that it outsold its rival European jet manufacturer again in 2006.

The US aircraft maker received orders for 1,044 jets, surpassing the record it set in 2005 as Airbus struggled in the face of boardroom upheavals, multiple profit warnings and huge delays on its flagship A380 superjumbo programme.

Airbus, by contrast, is expected to announce later this month that orders for last year reached only around 700.

This means that Boeing extended its lead over Airbus compared with 2005 when it won 52 per cent of all large aircraft orders by value.

Airbus is due to produce better news next Monday, however, when it unveils a major order for its latest model, the A350 XWB, from an overseas airline. Although the deal is due to be signed in London, the customer is not British.

Including two A350s purchased yesterday by the US-based leasing company Pegasus Aviation Finance, orders for the A350 currently stand at just 102 - a fifth of the order book for the rival Boeing jet, the 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing's 2006 sales compare with orders for 1,002 jets in 2005.

During the year it sold 157 Dreamliners and the largest number of 747 jumbo jets in 16 years.

The 72 orders for the 747 included a breakthrough deal to sell the first passenger version of the stretched 747-800 airplane to the German carrier Lufthansa.

The continued rapid growth of no-frills air travel also contributed to a record year for the 737 programme with some 729 of the single-aisle planes sold compared with 569 orders in 2005.

Boeing and Airbus are currently vying for a fleet replacement order from British Airways, potentially worth up to £10bn.

The order, one of the most important for the two manufacturers in the last decade, is scheduled to be placed some time towards the end of the first quarter of the year.

Boeing is offering the Dreamliner and 747-800 in competion with the Airbus A380 and A350.

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