Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Feb 2012 Contents 26 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2012
Last year was the best yet for sales of Boeing's 777 twinjet.
Just hours a er Boeing announced plans late
last year to close down its plant in Wichita,
Kansas, which dates back to the 1920s when
it was the Stearman Aircra factory, the
city authorities were on the phone to rival
Airbus, discussing possible expansion of the
European company s facility there.
Airbus has some 200 engineers in the mid-US
location, but does not need to introduce any more
to make Boeing feel its presence: the company has
increased production for ten years running and has
out-sold the US manufacturer too many times to be
regarded any longer as the industry s junior partner.
Airbus claimed about 55 percent of last year s sales
of jetliners with more than 100 seats. It delivered 534
commercial aircra to 88 customers -- including ten
new ones -- and took 1,608 orders (1,419 net, a er
cancellations) valued at US$169 billion (US$140
billion net) at catalogue prices. The company s
4,437-aircra , US$588 billion backlog represents
seven or eight years production, Airbus says.
The Toulouse-based company could have
concluded 2011 with even more impressive results,
but its year-end statistics recognise an essentially
conser vative approach to logging orders. Key business
came from American Airlines, which announced
requirements for 130 aircraft last July -- before
parent company AMR Corp went into Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection in November. US business
regulations mean that the order is in abeyance until
being re-a rmed, or cancelled, by a court and the
manufacturer s auditors ruled to exclude the deal
from the 2011 order tally.
For its part, Boeing delivered 477 commercial
aircra and logged 921 orders (805 net), bolstered
by several apparently last-minute sales agreements,
which contributed to a backlog of 3,771 machines.
Paradoxically strong demand during the current
nancial recession has spurred both manufacturers
to plan substantial production-rate increases in the
coming years. Between them, the two companies
booked orders for over 2,500 new jetliners and again
delivered more than 1,000 aircra in a single year.
Airbus and Boeing are re-vamping their respective
A320 and 737 single-aisle designs in anticipation of
higher fuel costs in the short-term and a 15- to 20-
year wait before new technolog y makes a new, clean-
sheet design worthwhile.
Airbus led the way with the re-engined A320neo,
launched in late 2010, triggering such a massive
airline response that last July Boeing s hand was
forced by American Airlines, which committed itself
to acquiring a re-engined 737 MAX.
By year s end, Boeing had taken 150 rm orders,
but expects this year to be as active as 2011 was for
the A320neo. e re-engining decisions came just as
the world was waking up to the idea that Airbus and
Boeing s market duopoly could be threatened by new
entrants from Canada, China, and Russia.
Because Boeing orders were heavily weighted to its
larger aircra -- 2011 was the twin-aisle, twin-engine
777 s best year for sales -- the dollar disparity between
the two companies performance was much closer
than aircra -unit statistics suggest. According to Wall
Street Journal analysis, the average catalogue price for
Boeing orders last year was around US$145 million,
compared with an Airbus average much closer to
US$105 million (at least for 2011 s rst 11 months).
Some 91 percent of Airbus orders were for the
A320 family (almost all for neo variants), with A330,
A350, and A380 widebodies accounting for 138
orders (71 net). Boeing s great success came through
over 200 orders for the 777, a welcome situation
given its continuing problems with 787 and 747-8
deliveries. e 777 s maturity means much product
development has been completed and programme
pro tability is high.
e big twinjet s popularity is such that Airbus was
obliged in December to cancel further production of the
four-engined A340, which is being replaced by the A350
XWB (standing for 'extra-wide body ). A er an initial
burst of sales interest, A350 demand has slowed, with
2011 having seen more cancellations than new orders.
Airbus leads 2011
"Traf fic is growing and the number of middle class [travellers]...
will triple in the next 20 years." -- John Leahy, Airbus Chief
Operating Officer (customers)
Continuing concerns about the global economy have not stifled growth in demand for new aircraft, with Airbus
and Boeing together collecting about 2,500 new orders and completing more than 1,000 deliveries in 2011,
writes Ian Goold.
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