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Boeing's jet orders top record in 2005


NEW YORK (XFNews) - Boeing Co. said Thursday it sold more than 1,000 jetliners in 2005, almost four times what the world's largest aerospace company sold last year as demand from foreign airlines heated up.

The 1,002 commercial airplane net orders in 2005 were well above a previous record in 1988 when the orders included planes made by the former McDonnell Douglas Co., which Boeing acquired.

"It certainly presages the return to No. 1 position in deliveries sometime in the future if they keep this up," said Paul Nisbet, aerospace analyst at JSA Research.

The tally is almost certainly ahead of rival Airbus, which will release its numbers later this month, and dwarfs last year's 272 orders and 249 in 2003.

Foreign carriers were behind the surge while U.S. passenger airlines accounted for less than 10% of the total. The biggest customer was Ireland's Ryanair Holdings , which ordered 84 B737s.

Among the U.S. passenger carriers, Alaska Airlines , AirTran Holdings , Continental Airlines , Southwest Airlines and bankrupt Northwest Airlines placed orders for a total of 93 planes.

Boeing said 2005 net orders included 569 for its B737s, 154 orders for B777s and 235 orders for its new Dreamliner 787.

The orders, from 72 customers, led investors to drive up the share price in the closing days of 2005 to an intraday record $72.40 on Dec. 27.

JSA Research's Nisbet said that 2006's pace of orders will be slower than 2005, when placing orders to get planes delivered before rivals can be a powerful driver of sales.

"Once the rush starts, and we've seen this in the past, you'll find all the airlines jumping in trying to get delivery slots in the fairly near term. If you waited until this year, you obviously are going to have to wait a lot longer than if you'd jumped in last year."

In Thursday trading, shares of Boeing, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell 1.4% to $70.20. Bank of America analysts downgraded the stock Thursday to neutral from buy.

"We believe there are still more orders to come in 2006 due to continued strength in the market," wrote Jefferies & Co. analyst Howard Rubel in a research note. "Notable competitions include Singapore, ANA, British Airways, KLM, Emirates, and Qatar."

In 1988, Boeing received 877 orders, which included planes made by McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing in 1997.

In 2004, Boeing obtained just 272 net orders.

Since Dec. 20, Air India has placed 68 orders for 737s, 777s and 787s and China Southern Airlines has ordered 20 of the 737 model. Other airlines in Asia and Europe have placed smaller orders.

Boeing also delivered its final B757 in 2005, ending a 23-year model run of more than 1,000 airplanes.

The Chicago-headquartered company's impact on the U.S. economy remains considerable. The latest factory order data for November showed a 16% rise in transportation equipment orders.

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