MIAMI — Airbus announced its final tally for 2013 during a press conference Monday in Toulouse, France. The company reported that it broke records in every major category: orders, backlog, and deliveries. It also managed to beat out arch-rival Boeing for total orders, though fell short of matching the American manufacturers impressive delivery rate.
Riding the enormous wave of carriers investing in fleet renewal, upgauging, and planned growth, the European plane maker booked 1,503 net orders last year. The total value exceeds an estimated $240.5 billion US, and sets a new company record.
The company’s venerable A320 family program far and away comprised the majority of the orders. Customers snapped up 1,162 of the single aisle, narrow-body airplanes. Most customers took advantage of the coming upgraded version of the A320, known as the A320NEO, putting down orders for 876. The present generation of A320 also remains popular (and readily available), representing a total of 286 airplanes.
Wide-body airplane orders also had a banner year. Predictably the A350-900 towered over every other program for a total of 179. The A350-1000 and A330-300 tied for second with 59 each, while the superjumbo A380 came in third with 42. Finally, the A330-200 (including freighter version) came in last with ten.
The total of 1,503 edges out arch-rival Boeing by 148 airplanes. While more or less breaking even on wide-bodies (Airbus booked 290 to Boeing’s 309), Airbus’ A320 narrow-body program solidly beat out the rival 737, 1,162 to 1,046. The A320NEO and 737MAX, both upgraded versions of the incredibly popular original, have been locking horns for a few years in their respective bids to capture the single-aisle market. So far Airbus’ NEO continues to lead the chase 2,610 to 1,763. During the conference Airbus simply chalked it up to the company making a “better aircraft.”
The records orders, which far outpaced deliveries, also contributed to a new record backlog for the manufacturer: 5,559 airplanes. According to the company it would take nine years to work down such an extensive backlog at current production rates.
Speaking of deliveries, Airbus set records there too. The company delivered 626 airplanes, a new personal best. The previous record was set in 2012, for 588. While the total falls short of Boeing’s 648, Airbus is shooting to keep the pressure on in 2014. It aims to hit a similar level.
Airbus continues to report that the A350 XWB remains on track to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2014, with certification scheduled to be complete in Q3. The airplane hit 800 hours of flight recently, and passed the crucial ‘ultimate wing load test’ late last year.
The A320NEO program continues to hum along nicely, with first flight scheduled for “autumn.” Advance certification of the 242ton and regional A330 variants are also to be expected in the coming year.
The company lowered expectations that the crazy pace of airplane orders would continue into 2014. “The fact is, we cannot as an industry continue at this level,” said Chief Operating Officer, Customers John Leahy.
Indeed the record-setting spending of 2013 will be hard to replicate going forward. Many US airlines, which had struggled through the prior decade, have put in for substantial fleet renewal orders as their collective financial situation has improved. Asian markets have boomed as new and existing carriers alike dug deep to add new airplanes. The same went for the Middle Eastern Gulf region carriers, which spent lavishly at the Dubai Airshow. European carriers are still forecasted to need hoards of new airplanes as existing fleets age out, and it is expected that 2014’s order action could see a of activity in that vein.