Airbus seen posting record 2009 deliveries

The superjumbo soars above Dubai. Airbus is reviewing the A380 production process to counter delays. (EB FILE)

Airbus's total deliveries for 2009 rested at a record 498 aircraft, according to industry sources. The European planemaker delivered three A380 superjumbos in December, bringing the A380 deliveries last year to 10.

EADS subsidiary Airbus declined to comment on the figures, nor on a report by Les Echos newspaper that it had booked 311 new aircraft orders in 2009. Industry analysts say Airbus could surpass its 2009 target of 300 orders after a scramble to firm up provisional orders or book new ones in time for the year's closing and amid signs airlines are starting to look beyond the downturn.

If confirmed, the delivery figures mean Airbus would beat its own output target and hold its lead against rival Boeing in jetliner production for the seventh year running. Airbus had targeted 490 total aircraft deliveries, up from 483 in 2008.

However, widely watched A380 deliveries, down from 12 the year before, are at the low end of predictions amid continued problems with production. The company's most recent target was 13 aircraft but CEO Tom Enders said in October that one or two of these could be pushed back into early 2010.

Airbus is conducting a review of the A380 production process, which faces cost overruns and delays due to the high level of customisation allowed on each $328 million aircraft.

Boeing said last week it had delivered 481 planes in 2009, up from 375 in 2008 and in line with its target of 480-485 deliveries. New orders from both planemakers fell in 2009 amid a steep decline in air travel and freight transport, but production is still rising on the back of an order boom that peaked in 2007, although analysts say production could come under pressure in 2010.

Boeing booked 263 new gross orders and 142 net orders after cancellations, mainly of its delayed 787 Dreamliner, in 2009. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said last week signs of economic recovery were emerging. At the end of November, Airbus said it had 225 gross orders and 194 net orders after cancellations so far in 2009. For the whole of 2008 it had 900 gross orders and 777 net sales.

 

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