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Monday, January 13, 2014

Airbus Wins Jet Order Race, Mulls Production Increase

Woodrow Bellamy III 

Airbus is considering an increase in production of its most popular single aisle A320 family aircraft after winning the commercial airframe order race over rival Boeing with 1,619 new orders in 2013. 
 
 
President and CEO Fabrice Brégier is interviewed by television reporters at Airbus’ Toulouse, France delivery center following the company’s Annual Press Conference. Photo, courtesy of Airbus.
 
The French manufacturer now claims a 51 percent share of the commercial aircraft market for sing-aisle and wide body air transport jets sized at or above 100 seats. In 2013, Airbus posted its most valuable gross order intake ever with $240.5 billion for 1,503 net orders, creating an eight-year production backlog valued at $809 billion for 5,559 aircraft. 
 
The 1,503 net order intake tops the total number for rival Boeing, which saw 1,355 total orders.
 
Currently, Airbus produces 42 A320s per month, but executives say that number could increase to 50 per month after 2018 when the A320neo (new engine option) is scheduled to enter service. The targeted rate of 10 per month for the A350 could also increase to 14 after 2018, the company said.
 
"We still have some homework but we believe there is some potential to go higher than rate 42; there is an upside and we are studying it for the (A320)neo," Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier told reporters during a press conference.
 
Bregier said a barrier to increasing output is finding enough production slots, which will be aided by the opening of the manufacturer's first U.S.-based plant in Mobile, Ala., scheduled for 2015. That plant will be dedicated to producing A320s. 
 
2013 marked 12 consecutive years of increased aircraft deliveries for Airbus as well, with 626 total deliveries breaking its previous record of 588 in 2012. 
Boeing did top Airbus, however, in terms of total deliveries, with 648 deliveries for 2013. 
 
Bregier said Airbus will be focused on delivering the A350 "without hiccups," as well as reaching a break-even point in 2015 with its super jumbo A380, which has not garnered as much market demand as the company's smaller aircraft families.
 
Both companies will enter new aircraft into service in 2014, with the Airbus A350 XWB scheduled to make its first commercial flights with launch customer Qatar Airways in the third quarter, and Boeing's 787-9 looking at a mid-year debut with Air New Zealand. 

 

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