Airbus takes top spot in order race

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Airbus clung to the top spot in commercial plane orders by confirming it outsold Boeing last year, while failing to close a gap in deliveries that leaves its US rival as the world’s largest plane manufacturer for the third year running.

The unexpected lead in aircraft orders comes after an unprecedented surge that saw the planemaker book over 400 plane orders in December.

Airbus said yesterday that it won 1,456 net orders in 2014, down from 1,503 a year earlier but enough to pass Boeing’s total of 1,432. Gross orders totalled 1,796, against 1,550 for Boeing, giving Airbus a 54 per cent market share.

The Airbus Group unit delivered a company record of 629 aircraft in 2014, up slightly from 626 a year earlier but lagging behind Boeing’s industry high of 723.

It aims to deliver slightly more aircraft this year, Airbus unit head Fabrice Bregier said.

Total deliveries by the two rose 6 per cent to a record 1,352 aircraft, reflecting fleet renewals and the rapid growth of Asia as an aviation hub. But some analysts say demand may have peaked as plummeting oil prices – although good for most airlines – reveal broader economic concerns.

Deliveries of the A320 narrowbody jet family, which generates much of Airbus’s cash, slipped to 490 aircraft from 493 a year earlier but trumped deliveries of the Boeing 737 range, ending a deficit seen between January and November.