Airbus Group SE (IW 1000/44) booked 320 jetliner orders in December alone to rack up 731 sales for the year, extending its backlog and beating rival Boeing Co.
Deals signed in the last month of 2016 included the sale of 98 new planes to Iran Air and 72 to India’s Go Airlines India Pvt., according to figures released Wednesday. Two other transactions saw 132 narrow-bodies purchased by buyers whose identities weren’t disclosed.
Airbus retained an order lead over Boeing held since 2012 after the U.S. business said last week it sold 668 aircraft in 2016, net of cancellations, though the figure didn’t include the 80 planes the Chicago-based company has itself agreed to sell to Iran.
While Airbus’s figures were bolstered by the late surge, both manufacturers saw new business dwindle last year as demand slows following mammoth orders over the past decade. Lower oil prices are also leading airlines to carry on operating older, less efficient planes, while stuttering economies are spurring cancellations and crimping net orders numbers.
The European company’s order tally slipped by almost 350 aircraft in 2016 and Boeing suffered a 100-jet decline.
Airbus handed over 688 aircraft in the year, beating its target of 670, as it delivered 111 planes in December, a record for the month. The company shipped 49 A350s, one short of its target, versus just 12 in the first six months, after largely resolving delays at seat and interiors supplier Zodiac Aerospace, Fabrice Bregier, its chief operating officer and civil unit chief, said in a briefing. Issues with A320neo engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney have also been addressed, he said.
With orders higher than the delivery figure, Airbus swelled its backlog to 6,874 planes and maintained a book-to-bill ratio above one. While Boeing retained its status as the world’s No. 1 planemaker after delivering 748 jets, its backlog declined by 80 aircraft to 5,715.
John Leahy, Airbus’s chief salesman, said that deliveries next year will climb above 700 and that the book-to-bill figure is likely to be less than one, implying that orders will fall.
By Benjamin Katz