Airbus posts record orders, studies whether to raise output

TOULOUSE, France Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:07am EST

TOULOUSE, France Jan 13 (Reuters) - Airbus posted an industry record of 1,619 new airplane orders in 2013, 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 rival Boeing after repeatedly revising up its order targets last year but lost the delivery contest to Boeing for a second year despite reaching 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 percent 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 crown for new orders.

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

It disclosed a fresh order for 100 smaller jets from an unidentified customer.

Airbus produces 42 medium-haul A320 jets a month and Boeing recently announced plans to leapfrog its rival by hiking Boeing 737 output from 38 to 47 a month by 2017. Both types of plane are being upgraded with new engines from around mid-decade.

Airbus said it saw enough demand in the market to increase production of the new A320neo model, once it has completed a transition to 42 a month in 2018. Depending on demand, it could boost output of the existing A320ceo even earlier than that.

Airbus said development of the wide-body A350 was on track, with risks becoming lower every day, but remained challenging.

Airbus gave no target for overall orders for 2014, but said it expected they would keep pace with deliveries.

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