In publishing their 2014 results today (January 13), both OEMs have confirmed record numbers of deliveries and order backlogs, but Airbus failed to match its 2013 order numbers and this was particularly apparent in its share of the widebody market.
While in 2013, Airbus secured 366 orders for widebody aircraft – the bulk of which were for the A350 – in 2014 the Toulouse-based OEM secured just 135 orders, even with the launch of the much-anticipated A330neo at Farnborough.
Boeing, meanwhile, secured firm orders for 328 widebody jets last year – a 10 per cent increase on 2013’s order numbers – including 238 orders for the 777.
In deliveries too Airbus seemed unable to match Boeing.
While Airbus delivered 629 aircraft in 2014 – a new record for the OEM – including its highest ever number of widebody jets (139), Boeing delivered an industry record of 723 commercial aircraft in 2014, with its widebodies accounting for more than 60 per cent of all twin-aisle deliveries made last year.
Overall Airbus managed to stay just ahead of its Seattle counterpart in the order stakes, securing 24 more aircraft orders across the year (1,456 firm orders compared with Boeing’s 1,432), but this is far behind the industry record of 1,619 orders it secured in 2013.
While losing ground in widebody orders, Airbus maintained momentum in the single-aisle market; securing 1,321 orders for A320 family aircraft – a five per cent increase year on year.
This puts Airbus 217 narrowbody orders ahead of Boeing in 2014, but the US airframer also saw total orders for single-aisle aircraft increase, with a four per cent rise in sales that tracks Airbus’ growth.
One area in which Airbus’ results outstrip Boeing is that of the size of their respective order backlogs. At the end of 2014, Airbus’ totalled 6,386 aircraft, while Boeing’s numbered 5,789.
Both figures are record highs for the firms, which on the one hand provides assurance to the whole commercial aviation sector of the health of the market, but on the other raises the spectre of a potential order bubble.
These backlogs cannot continue to increase indefinitely, but they certainly aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.