July 8, 2012 / 11:56 AM / in 5 years

Boeing expects to overtake Airbus sales: reports

Logos of some Boeing 787 commercial airline clients are seen on a fuselage of the aircraft at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore February 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lam

LONDON (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N) chief executive Jim McNerney expects the U.S. planemaker to outsell Airbus for “a number of years” having trailed its European rival for nearly a decade, according to reports in the British press.

“I think we will, in all likelihood, pull slightly ahead of them (Airbus), either this year or next... But, you know, over the years we’ve been ahead sometimes; they’ve been ahead recently. And I think there’s a good chance that we will pull ahead for a number of years,” McNerney told British newspaper The Independent.

EADS EAD.PA unit Airbus booked orders for 1,419 planes worth some 90 billion pounds ($140 billion) in 2011, compared with Boeing’s 805.

At last year’s Paris airshow Airbus secured huge deals for its A320neo, a revamped version of its A320 short-haul aircraft.

Analysts expect Boeing to stage a comeback at this week’s Farnborough show, after Airbus admitted early this year that it could not keep up the momentum for the neo, which is now being challenged by Boeing’s fuel-efficient 737 Max.

Airbus also expects Boeing to make up ground this year.

“Our industry is a long-term one and we have outsold and outdelivered our competitor in nine of the last 10 years so, even if they do well this year, a 10:1 ratio would still be OK for us,” John Leahy, chief operating officer at Airbus, told the UK’s Observer newspaper.

Airbus finished last year with a 64 percent market share, but Leahy says the company is “comfortable” with 50 percent.

McNerney also said the Boeing-Airbus duopoly in the $100 billion-a-year aircraft market could be broken by the Chinese as soon as 2017.

He told German paper Welt am Sonntag that Boeing has no immediate plans to build a final-assembly line in China, Europe or India, though it aims to increase production by more than 30 percent in the coming three years.

($1 = 0.6449 British pounds)

Reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by David Hulmes

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