Airbus delivers 5,000th plane

One of the world's two leading jetliner manufacturers, Airbus, arrived at another historical landmark with the delivery of its 5,000th aircraft. The milestone was reached when Australian carrier Qantas took delivery of an Airbus A330-200 on Friday.

Toulouse headquartered Airbus delivered its first plane, an A300, to Air France in May 1974. Thereafter it took 19 years for deliveries to reach the 1,000 mark, with the 2,000 mark being reached in 1999, the 3,000 mark in 2002 and the 4,000 mark in September 2005.

For quite a few decades, Airbus lived in the shadow of its archrival, America's Boeing, but more recently it has overtaken its Seattle-based rival in terms of annual sales. It recently achieved another coveted landmark by delivering the world's largest passenger aircraft, the A380, to Singapore Airlines in October this year.

Airbus has said that it is continuing to ramp up production rates in order to reach 10 A330 and A340 planes, 40 A320s and four A380s per month by 2010 in order to cope with very strong demand for its products.

According to Airbus, if all goes according to plan, the backlog of more than 3,000 aircraft ought to be delivered over the next five to six years.