Airbus says it had more orders than Boeing in 2005 - UPDATE


LONDON (XFNews) - European airplane maker Airbus on Tuesday laid claim to the most aircraft orders and deliveries for 2005 to upstage rival Boeing Co., until recently thought to have taken back the orders title with a record year.

Airbus said it had a record 1,055 net orders, mostly for single-aisle aircraft, giving it the most orders for a fifth year in a row.

Airbus also reported 166 orders for A330s, A340s and A350s, as well as 20 orders for the A380 super jumbo and seven A300 freighter orders.

Earlier this month, Boeing tallied up a record 1,002 orders in 2005, and had been winning that race for most of the year.

"It's a surprise, it's kind of come out of nowhere," said Doug McVitie, managing director of consulting firm Arran Aerospace.

The Airbus backlog of 2,177 aircraft valued at $220 billion is the highest in company history, Airbus said. And Airbus said its operating margin would be above its target of 10%.

It also delivered 378 planes worth 22.3 billion euros in 2005, topping Boeing's 290 deliveries, and winning that particular race for the third straight year.

"Airlines have never ever placed so many orders, a sign that they are very optimistic about the future of air transportation, with also a lot of new carriers emerging and bringing cheap air travel to an increasing number of consumers. But it also reflects the need for more modern equipment to face the rising fuel prices," said CEO Gustav Humbert.

Banc of America Securities analysts wrote in a Tuesday note that the Airbus' orders as a total percentage stood at 52% in 2005, down from 57%, in a sign that Boeing is fighting back.

"Although, Airbus can claim victory for numbers of aircraft, we believe the more interesting story is BA's domination of the higher price, higher margin wide-body market: wide-body jets comprised 44% of BA's 2005 orders, compared to just 17% of Airbus," the analysts wrote.

In a duopoly split almost 50-50, the titles of most orders and most deliveries can be important public relations wins. But it won't do much to help sell more planes in the coming year.

"It's not going to sway a buyer but I think airbus for its own sake wants to keep it going," said McVitie. "It certainly won't worry Boeing."

Airbus is 80% owned by EADS and 20% owned by BAE Systems .

Aerospace suppliers in 2006 could have their best year since 1998 as Boeing and Airbus ramp up production, according to William Alderman, president of aerospace investment bank Alderman & Co.

"The expected 2006 level of 800 represents a 20% increase over 2005 and is an increase in the rate of production that has not been seen by this industry for more than 7 years," Alderman wrote. "As many in the industry are now saying, it's about time."

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