Boeing 'is set to overtake Airbus sales'

UK jobs threatened as US aircraft builder's boss vows to be on top for 'a number of years'

Boeing boss Jim McNerney has claimed that the aircraft builder will outsell fierce rival Airbus for "a number of years" having been No 2 to the pan-European giant for nearly a decade.

Speaking ahead of the start of tomorrow's Farnborough International Airshow, the most important date in the industry's calendar, Mr McNerney conceded that Boeing and Airbus's duopoly in the $100bn-a-year aircraft market could be broken by the Chinese as soon as 2017.

Any sales defeat for Airbus's owner Eads could hurt the UK, as around 140,000 people are directly or indirectly employed through the group's wing manufacturing work in Broughton, North Wales, and Filton, near Bristol.

Although Airbus has received more orders for its aircraft than Boeing for each of the past nine years, the US group has outsold the group by four times in the first quarter of 2012. This is partly explained by the impact of the fuel-efficient 737 MAX, which Boeing unveiled last year as an alternative to Airbus's hugely popular A320neo.

Mr McNerney said: "I think we will, in all likelihood, pull slightly ahead of them [Airbus], either this year or next... But, you know, over the years we've been ahead sometimes; they've been ahead recently. And I think there's a good chance that we will pull ahead for a number of years."

He admitted to some regret at not launching the MAX six-to-12 months earlier, as Airbus has "some advantages as the first mover" in the fuel-efficient aircraft market. Demand for these aeroplanes is on the rise as fuel prices soar and emissions targets spread wider.

Airbus and Boeing have been the subject of long-running trade disputes between the European Union and the US over state aid. And both have been found by the World Trade Organisation to have received billions of dollars in state subsidies and loans.

Much of this has been played out in public. Just last week the companies traded words on the matter, but Mr McNerney tried to play peacemaker ahead of Farnborough. He claimed "respect" for Airbus and said that "I never thought our relationship was particularly bad."

Eads has privately voiced concerns that the dispute has helped fledgling manufacturers develop in countries that almost certainly provide state aid, to the extent that the duopoly could be cracked.

China has been developing the Comac, which is in the narrow-body family of aircraft, the single-aisle model loved by commercial operators for their short-haul flights.

Mr McNerney said: "Some time in the next five-to-15 years, in my judgement, there'll be a legitimate competitor in the narrow-body from the Chinese."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003