Boeing has outsold Airbus for the second consecutive year, with 1413 net orders, against Airbus’ 1,341, but the 787 delays underscore the pressures both manufacturers are under to fulfill their record orders. They each have over 3,400 aircraft in their backlogs, equivalent to six years’ production.
Both Airbus and Boeing expect a return to more “normal” order patterns in 2008, although Airbus’ head of sales, John Leahy, is still upbeat. He stated that cycles in the aviation industry “used to be peaks and…canyons or big troughs - now it looks like we are getting more hills and valleys”.
But Leahy added, “it doesn't matter who is first [in annual sales] - the main question is, how do we manage the backlog?"
As expected, Boeing has unveiled a further delay to initial 787 deliveries until early 2009, putting in jeopardy the expansion and cost reduction strategies of many customers.
But as reported in yesterday’s Asia Pacific Airline Daily, the 787 delays (like the A380 before it) could have a silver lining for some airlines, particularly if there is a downturn in global aviation markets.
Geoff Dixon stated the Qantas Group has a range of options to cope with the extra 787 delays, including revised retirement dates for some aircraft, re-allocating existing capacity and potential schedule adjustments. Crucially, there would be “no effect on the Qantas Group’s overall growth strategy and no impact on Qantas Group earnings”, according to Mr Dixon.
Both manufacturers continue to ramp up production, with output set to be around 500 units each for the next few years. But winning credibility back from customers this year will be crucial.
Airbus vs Boeing annual aircraft deliveries: 2001 to 2009E
Source: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation