Toulouse, France: European aircraft maker, and Boeing rival, Airbus has maintained its grip on the top position for global jet deliveries for the sixth year running. Revealing numbers at its annual press conference, the European aerospace giant said it had delivered a record 483 planes in 2008.
The manufacturer, however, warned that orders could well slip below delivery numbers in 2009 as the number of travelers shrank in a global downturn and airlines battled a resource crunch that prevented them from accessing finance.
Airlines need finance primarily for payments to manufacturers as orders, placed in happier times, begin to mature.
At its annual press conference in Toulouse, Airbus confirmed it delivered a record 483 planes in 2008, thirty more than the previous year. It also confirmed it beat perennial rival Boeing Co. on net orders, with a total of 777.
This would translate into business worth $100 billion at list prices. This, however, was down 42 per cent on the numbers for 2007 and suggested the end of a three-year aviation boom. It also confirmed 123 cancellations for 2008. It attributed these numbers to record high fuel prices in the first half of 2008, which led to the bankruptcy of an airline with 65 planes on order.
Another 30 cancellations were for the A350, which has now been revamped into the A350 XWB.
Airbus chief executive Thomas Enders predicted that deliveries in 2009 would be roughly at the same level as in 2008, though orders would be below the at number.
"It will be a soft year for aircraft orders," he said.
He also cut the forecast for A380 deliveries in 2009 to 18 from 21.
The biggest decline in orders was likely to be faced by the corporate jet segment. "In a recession a corporate jet tends not to be the first thing that the board wants to approve for the CEO," said John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers.