Airbus sets industry record with 1,619 new orders for aeroplanes

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Airbus posted an industry record of 1,619 new airplane orders in 2013, pushing its backlog to almost nine years of production, and said it was examining the potential for a two-stage increase in production of its most popular jets.

The European planemaker reclaimed top spot in commercial orders from Boeing after repeatedly revising up its targets last year, but lost the delivery contest to its rival despite an internal record of 626 deliveries.

While booking more jets than ever in a year dominated by the launch of two new Boeing aircraft, Airbus revoked orders for its A380 and A350 jets from India’s Kingfisher Airlines, which has not been flying since 2012 due to cash shortages.

After adjusting for cancellations, Airbus total net orders rose 80 per cent from the previous year to 1,503 aircraft. Boeing closed the year with 1,531 gross orders, 1,355 net orders and a record total of 648 deliveries. It remained the world’s largest planemaker but lost the race for orders.

Airbus said it ended 2013 with an industry-wide record backlog of 5,559 aircraft worth $809bn at list prices. Boeing’s backlog stood at 5,080 aircraft.

Buoyed by growth in emerging markets and the replacement of old fleets in the United States, planemakers have been riding out the recession with ample orders, but are now shifting their attention towards producing the jets that they have sold.

Included in Airbus’s end-year figures was an order for 100 smaller jets from an unidentified customer. That mirrors a recent surge of anonymous orders at Boeing, which sources say reflects busy activity in China, despite its economic slowdown.

“We cannot continue at this level (of orders), but what we are doing is continuing to increase production,” said Airbus sales chief John Leahy.

Airbus produces 42 medium-haul A320 jets a month and Boeing recently announced plans to leapfrog its European rival by hiking Boeing 737 output from 38 a month to 47 by 2017.