Europe's Airbus Industries closed 2006 behind Boeing for the first time since 2000. While Boeing booked orders for 1050 aircraft in 2006, its European rival trailed with 824, down from 1,111 in 2005. |
Airbus recorded lower orders for all categories of aircraft, with single-aisle planes recording a steep fall from 918 to 673.
The aerospace firm has faced serious delays to its flagship A380 plane that have delayed the project by over two years, which Airbus boss and joint CEO of parent firm EADS, Louis Gallois, described to shareholders as a major shock and disappointment.
The delay is expected to lead to an annual loss for the aircraft firm as the number of orders for A380s fell from 20 to 17; already the delays have cost Airbus more than $6 billion (Rs26,700 crore) and could rise further through settlements for late deliveries and cancellations.
The A380 is widely regarded as being perhaps the most complex passenger jet ever built and Airbus engineers in Toulouse have been struggling to install the 500km of wiring that each plane requires.
In June 2005, Airbus said that the delivery schedule would slip by six months and a further delay of six to seven months was announced in July 2006.
Infuriated at the production delays, several airlines have threatened cancellations for the A380.
Airbus' first A380 will now be delivered to Singapore Airlines in October, 20 months behind schedule. Virgin Atlantic, which is awaiting six planes, has said it will defer its order by four years to 2013, while Emirates, the A380's biggest customer with 43 planes on order, is believed to be in negotiations with rival Boeing to substitute the A380 with its 747-8.
But Qantas has increased its order from 12 aircraft to 20.
Despite losing out on new orders, at Airbus delivered 36 more aircraft than the US company's 398 last year - the European firm's second best annual delivery.