On a day when Boeing would normally be celebrating its return as the world’s number one aircraft producer and retaking the order crown, the 787 crisis over shadow’s the Airbus 2012 Results review in which the European OEM concedes the lead for the first time in a decade.
Airbus today (European time) announced it delivered a record 588 aircraft to 89 customers in a single year, and took in 914 gross orders (833 net), achieving a 41% market share on the order contest. Boeing delivered slightly more than 600 aircraft last year and received just over 1,200 orders, driven by the 737 MAX.
Going into 2012, Airbus COO-Customers John Leahy conceded the turn-about. But he noted then that for 2011-2012 Airbus would likely retain the lead, and today he revealed that it did, reporting a two-year market share of 53%.
The A320neo retains a lop-sided market share of 62% at the end of 2012. Boeing edges Airbus in A320ceo v 737NG backlog with 51.5%. Other categories:
Leahy acknowledged that he was disappointed in the sales of the A380 last year, which fell far short of the goal of 30. The effervescent Leahy quipped that he outsold Boeing 9:1 in the VLAP category, but conceded he only sold nine A380s to Boeing’s one 747-8I.
Leahy said market conditions and the high profile wing rib brace cracks dampened A380 sales. He has a goal of 25 sales this year. There is a target of 700 overall orders this year.
Although Airbus lost the lead to Boeing last year, Leahy and Airbus CEO Fabrice Breigier noted the results exceeded its goal of 600 sales.
Airbus now has a backlog of 4,682 aircraft to Boeing’s 4,373. The breakdown:
Market segment breakdown:
Breigier expressed “humility” over the A350 program. He allowed that the program is running somewhat behind schedule but “globally” is about where it should be. Although Airbus is striving to have first flight before the Paris Air Show in June, Breigier said this “probably” won’t happen. Ever the showman, Leahy would like to see it happen for “bragging rights” at the show.
Both executives said the lack of delivery slots has slow sales. The program is sold out in large numbers until 2020, and each said they could sell a large number of aircraft, including the slow-selling -1000, if there were slots available.
Leahy said that the lack of slots prompts Airbus to switch customers to the more profitable (to Airbus) -900. With forecasts that the A330 could see sales to 2022-2025, this production line isn’t available for the A350, and Breigier ruled out Mobile (AL) as a prospective final assembly line. Breigier said that original plans called to discontinue the A330 by 2013.
Leahy said that aside from the prospect of adding sharklets to the A330, which would reduce fuel burn by 3%, Airbus has pushed the performance enhancements about as far as the A330 can go. Leahy continued a theme that he’s been promoting for several years: that the lower capital cost of the A330 outweighs the fuel efficiency advantage of the 787, giving the A330 a net advantage.
Leahy and Breigier predict that A320neo will retain a long-term 60% market share over the 737 MAX. They note that Airbus will complete its transition from the A320ceo to the neo by 2017, when the MAX is just entering service.
Leahy and Breigier were dismissive of the 777X concepts, characterizing them as “paper airplanes.”
“The A350-1000 will be a fantastic airplane,” Breigier said. “Boeing is beginning to understand this.”
Boeing 787 issues
Airbus officials responded to questions about the differences between the uses of lithium batteries in the A350 vs the 787.
Airbus elected from the start to retain a more traditional architecture rather than going with an all-electric approach chosen by Boeing. Airbus considered an all-electric system to match the Boeing approach but engineers concluded the risk-benefit didn’t support the all-electric design. Airbus has more lithium battery cells but draws only 20% of the aircraft’s power from these batteries compared with the all-in approach by Boeing. The A350 will use two batteries to start the APU vs one on the 787.