Boeing vs Airbus: US shoots down Europe in dogfight

But do the high-flying rivals' sales figures really matter, ask Mark Leftly and Nikhil Kumar

Standing before the world's financial media in Hamburg, a smirk on his face, John Leahy spread his arms wide and said of Airbus's dominance in the skies: "It's not my fault."

Airbus's top salesman – such a workaholic he was given medical advice, apparently ignored, to slow down after heart surgery in 2006 – couldn't resist a dig at the manufacturer's great rival of four decades, which he had beaten on the number of orders secured for the ninth successive year: "Boeing helped by not getting its act together."

Twelve months on from that record year of 1,608 aircraft sales, Leahy surely won't be so cocky next Thursday in Toulouse, when Airbus will admit defeat to the Chicago-based Boeing for 2012. Boeing comprehensively outsold Airbus last year, with commercial airlines making firm orders for more than 1,200 US craft against an estimated 900 for the European group, which is owned by EADS.

The press conference accompanying Airbus's results is usually a triumphalist affair. Most expect the event to be a touch more downbeat next week, which is fitting after a difficult year for EADS.

Most infamously, shortly after finally taking the top job, EADS boss Tom Enders failed in a politically audacious bid to merge with British defence giant BAE Systems back in October. Blocked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, this has led to a review of the group's strategy that will be unveiled in a few months' time.

However, despite Leahy's confidence, few doubted that Boeing would emerge victorious in 2012: the Americans were equally bullish in forecasting that the year of the London Olympics, Queen's Jubilee, and the Mayan end of the world would belong to them.

The reason why Leahy said that Boeing had played its part in Airbus's success, was because the Americans had failed to launch its 737 MAX in time to take on the A320 Neo to make much of an impact in 2011. Airlines desperate for fuel efficient planes snapped up Airbus's Neo immediately, meaning there was a pent-up demand for the MAX in 2012.

Essentially, there was no way Boeing could take 2011 and no way Airbus could emerge victorious the following year. Zafar Khan, an aerospace analyst at Société Générale, points out that taking the combined total over the past two years would be fairer – and result in an Airbus win – given the tactics employed by the companies.

The competition between the two is almost playground-like at times, but Khan hints that the key for them is for the duopoly to remain while the Chinese, Russians and Brazilians try to catch them up. "Anyway, going forward we're going to see a fairly even distribution between the two as there not many new planes in the offing," argues Khan.

Leahy no doubt sees some sales opportunities in the reputational hit that Boeing is taking over the operational problems with the 787 Dreamliner (see box), though the Americans are confident they can prove the craft are safe.

Whatever his rhetoric, Leahy must know that the two will keep fighting to a draw for some time to come.

Dreamliner nightmare?

The US's aviation watchdog launched a comprehensive review of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jet last week, focusing on its electrical systems after a series of glitches.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it would conduct a joint review of the plane with Boeing. It did not, however, call for a grounding of the aircraft, with both the FAA and President Obama's Transport Secretary Ray LaHood stressing that they considered the 787 safe to fly. "I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes," Mr LaHood said.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

VIDEO
Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Oxegen in Ireland has been axed as promoters decide it is 'no longer viable'
arts + ents Promoters have axed the event as it is 'no longer viable in current form'
News
The troubled star is set to give fans the biggest insight into her life away from the headlines
people Star made the announcement during the final episode of the programme, entitled Lindsay
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Computer Science)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...

C#.NET Delphi SQL Developer (C#,DELPHI,SQL)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...

VB.NET SQL Junior-Mid Level Developer (VB.NET,SQL,Excellent com

£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...

Trade Support, Application Support, Operations Analyst, CRM MS

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players