(Corrects Boeing's 2012 net orders to 1,203 from 921 in
* Airbus had 914 gross plane orders in 2012
* Airbus delivered 588 aircraft in 2012
* Targets more than 600 deliveries in 2013
* Targets around 700 gross orders in 2013
By Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer
TOULOUSE, France, Jan 17 Boeing
re-captured the crown as the world's largest maker of passenger
jets last year, overtaking Airbus for the first time in
a decade as it recovered from delays on its new Dreamliner 787,
only to face new problems on Thursday with the grounding of 787s
over battery safety concerns.
"I honestly wish all the best to my colleagues at Boeing to
get this aircraft back into service, because an aircraft is
designed to fly," Airbus's chief executive Fabrice Bregier told
a news conference on the EADS subsidiary's sales.
The world's dominant planemakers compete aggressively for a
roughly equal share of the $100 billion civil jet market, though
their fortunes have see-sawed in the past two years as first
Airbus then Boeing racked up orders for fuel-saving
International regulators joined the United States on
Thursday in suspending flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
while the risk of fire on lithium-ion batteries is investigated
following two incidents in the past week.
The 787 is the first commercial jet to use the lightweight
but powerful batteries, which discharge a large amount of energy
to support an increasing array of electrical equipment on modern
aircraft but must be shielded from the risk of overcharging.
Airbus executives defended the use of lithium-ion batteries
on the company's A350 passenger jet which is currently in
development, saying its rival to the Dreamliner is designed
The 787 relies on electrical power rather than traditional
hydraulic and pneumatic systems for a larger number of aircraft
systems, experts say.
Boeing has said it is confident its 787 is safe but is
reviewing the plane's design and assembly together with the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration.
Airbus said it remained confident of achieving the maiden
flight of its A350 carbon-composite airliner by mid-year,
despite problems with some suppliers including Spain's Alestis
and fuselage parts maker Spirit Aero Systems of Kansas.
EADS's shares were up 4 percent at 33.79 euros by 1315 GMT
Thursday, the second-biggest gainer in France's blue-chip CAC 40
index. The stock has gained around 14 percent this
month after adding 22 percent last year.
Airbus said it had booked 914 gross orders during 2012 as
Boeing caught up with demand for revamped medium-haul jets,
selling exactly the same volume for one model alone.
Airbus had won the previous year's order race by a record
margin and had been expected to draw a sharp response as the
planemakers waged a two-year contest to win orders by offering
airlines significant fuel savings over earlier models.
Adjusted for cancellations, Airbus had 833 net orders.
Gross orders stood well ahead of the company's 2012 target
of 650 jets but compared with Boeing's comparable figure of
1,339 new aircraft, giving Airbus a market share of 41 percent.
Boeing led on net orders with 1,203 aircraft.
"What goes up eventually comes back down," said Airbus sales
chief John Leahy, adding that Airbus had won 52 percent of the
market over a two-year period.
In remarks likely to inflame competition with Boeing in the
largest segment of the market, Leahy said Airbus aimed to keep
"up to 60 percent" of overall orders for the latest revamped
medium-haul planes, the A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.
Boeing has signalled it draws the line closer to 50 percent.
The Airbus 2012 figures were closely in line with estimates
of more than 900 orders and a market share of 41 percent
reported by Reuters after a late surge allowed Airbus to narrow
the gap with Boeing.
Airbus also confirmed it had delivered 588 aircraft in 2012,
up 10 percent from the previous year and above target. But it
was outpaced by Boeing's total of 601 planes delivered.
For 2013 Airbus set a target of more than 600 deliveries and
700 gross orders. Senior executives said they were confident
they would continue to flatten out any volatility in deliveries
by juggling customers and jets in the order book.
On specific models, Airbus missed its target of 30 orders
for the A380 after the discovery of wing cracks a year ago
shortened the life of certain parts and forced the company to
come up with costly repairs. Instead, it sold nine superjumbos.
For 2013 it predicted a slowdown in A380 production to 25
aircraft as it makes the transition to a permanent solution for
the wing defects, blamed on manufacturing and design flaws that
were initially addressed by a temporary repair.
It expected deliveries to pick up above 30 in 2014, and
officials said they should be able to sell 25 A380s in 2013.
Airbus exceeded an informal target of 300 current-generation
A320 narrowbody plane orders as it strives to ensure production
will be maintained during the switch to a revamped, fuel-saving
A320neo version between 2015 and 2017.
The 305 "A320ceo" orders included a last-minute deal for 60
aircraft with an unnamed Asian customer.
Executives expressed confidence in avoiding any dip in
production for their best-selling model -- seen as a crucial
objective as the A320 family generates cash for larger models.
Airbus, which has accused Boeing of stimulating a price war
to win deals, said it was satisfied with its own pricing. Boeing
has made similar remarks about its pricing. Industry sources
privately say recent competition has been intense.
Airbus said on Thursday it had increased the average list
prices of its aircraft by 3.6 percent from the start of January.
(Editing by James Regan and Greg Mahlich)