Airbus Beats Boeing in 2015 Order Race, Lags on Deliveries

PARIS (Reuters) - European plane manufacturer Airbus beat Boeing in the race for new business last year, swelling its total order book to a record $1 trillion, but remained behind on deliveries while Boeing extended its lead as the world’s largest jetmaker.

The plane-making division of Airbus Group grabbed 1,036 net plane orders (after cancellations), it said on Tuesday, down 29 percent from 2014, compared with Boeing’s tally of 768, which was a fall of 46 percent from its previous year’s orders.

Both planemakers experienced a slowdown after two years of heavy orders, and amid concerns over the impact of economic jitters and low oil prices and demand for fuel-saving jets.

Despite that, deliveries of popular models grew, reflecting industry forecasts of persistent growth in traffic.

Airbus hit a company record of 635 deliveries and predicted over 650 in 2016, with new orders again exceeding deliveries.

Boeing said last week its deliveries rose 5 percent to 762 jets, an industry record.

Combined deliveries came in a whisker below 1,400, having doubled in the past decade, and Airbus plane-making chief Fabrice Bregier said the latest data showed the market was “resilient.”

Airlines “do not expect oil prices to stay low forever,” he said.

However, Airbus dropped to its lowest overall share of deliveries against Boeing – 45 percent – since 2002, and its lowest share of wide-body deliveries – 35 percent – since 2001, after its rival pumped up deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus expects to close the gap with its competing A350, but deliveries have started gently due to industry-wide cabin supply problems and the European firm’s determination to avoid a repeat of industrial problems that beset Boeing’s 787 and its own A380.

Airbus argued that deliveries were about the same as Boeing’s, disregarding differences of timing between increases in production of the latest generation of lightweight jets.

In a boost to the slow-selling A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, Airbus said it had won an order for three of the double-deckers from a “global leading airline.”

That fell to a net total of two orders for the year, after a cancellation linked to the restructuring of bankrupt Russian airline Transaero, industry sources said.

Japan’s Nikkei reported this month that Japan’s biggest carrier, ANA Holdings Inc., was set to buy three of the jets.

As planemakers target further production increases, tensions meanwhile surfaced between Airbus and some top suppliers. Sales chief John Leahy blamed U.S. engine-maker Pratt & Whitney for a delay in the first delivery of the new A320-neo, while Bregier publicly told France’s Zodiac Aerospace to pull up its socks following seat production delays.

“Yes it is a message,” he told a news conference.

Airbus missed its target for 15 A350 deliveries in 2015 by one plane, because of shortages in cabin equipment. It expects to deliver “at least 50” of the new jets in 2016.