Airbus SAS is narrowing the order gap to Boeing Co. (BA:US), with the European aircraft maker announcing a flurry of sales in the final weeks of last year valued at more than $27 billion as it closes the books on 2012.
Airbus this week has announced deals with Chinese leasing firm BOC Aviation for 50 A320s, including 25 of the new-engine neo model, as well as Indonesian low-fare airline Citilink for 25 A320neos, bringing its declared order total to 861 aircraft for 2012. The two sales, with a combined list price of $7 billion, come on top of $20 billion in purchases the Toulouse-based company has announced since November.
Airbus will spell out its 2012 performance for orders and deliveries on January 17 as it chases Boeing, which saw net orders climb 49 percent to 1,203 units, led by purchases of single-aisle 737s. Airbus had a target of 650 sales for 2012 following a record a year earlier.
Commitments from BOC Aviation and Citilink bring demand for the A320neo to more than 1,700 firm orders since it went on sale in December 2010, against 1,064 orders for Boeing’s competitor, the 737 Max, which has been on the market since late 2011. Neo deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2015, about two years before the Max.
“Airbus has done better than I would have thought, given that Boeing only formally launched its Max at the end of 2011, while Airbus had their really big year for the neo that year,” said Nick Cunningham, an analyst at Agency Partners in London.
The A320 and 737 families are the backbone of Airbus and Boeing production, with more than 800 combined deliveries last year. The rivalry has intensified as the pair’s duopoly is about to be challenged by new entrants from Canada and China.
Boeing is poised to regain the title as world’s largest aircraft maker, having delivered 601 aircraft last year with Airbus expected to meet its target of shipping about 580 units.
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