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Airbus Beats Boeing In Orders

Airbus said on Jan. 17 that it had booked record orders exceeding 1,000 passenger planes in 2005, taking 51% of the world market and beating archrival Boeing for the fifth year running. Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert told a press conference that the group's firm orders had nearly tripled to a record 1,055 aircraft in 2005 from 366 the previous year. The aircraft maker, controlled by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), meanwhile delivered 378 passenger planes last year compared with 320 in 2004.

Airbus now has 51% of the civilian aviation market and for the fifth year running has beaten U.S. rival Boeing on overall orders. However Boeing is catching up and earlier this month announced that it had secured a record 1,002 firm orders in 2005 and delivered 290 airliners, only the third time it has lagged behind Airbus on annual deliveries.

On Tuesday, Humbert conceded that Boeing had won the battle over long-haul carriers last year. "We are behind Boeing in the wide-body, long-range order intake. It was a special situation for the long-range last year, but one year doesn't make a trend," he said. Boeing in 2005 had won 55% of the market regarding orders of long-haul aircraft. Humbert said that Airbus aimed to capture 50% of the market for long-distance aircraft within two years.

Looking ahead, Airbus forecasts deliveries of "more than 400" passenger planes in 2006, Humbert said, compared with Boeing's prediction of about 395 for its own aircraft.

Along with its European rival, Boeing has benefitted from buoyant air travel market in 2005 with air passenger numbers rising 7.9% in the first 10 months, according to the latest data from industry body IATA. The two also benefited from a rush of new contracts signed with airlines in Asia and the Middle East and orders from fast-growing low-cost carriers.

The rise in passenger numbers coupled with spiral in the price of aviation fuel has encouraged airlines to invest in new planes. The increase in fuel prices has encouraged airlines to modernize their fleets to introduce more fuel-efficient craft. In October Airbus had launched the A350, a rival model to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Orders totaled 235 in 2005. Airbus has received about 50 orders, or 172 including the intentions to purchase, for the A350.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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