Boeing delivers a record 806 aircraft in 2018 to pip Airbus in sales

Boeing delivered a record 806 aircraft in 2018 to retain the title of the world’s biggest plane maker for the seventh straight year, but missed its full-year target of 810-815 deliveries due to supplier woes that delayed shipments.

European rival Airbus met its own 800-jet target, pending final audit, but is certain to lag behind Boeing due to engine delays.

Airbus provisionally hit its main industrial target of 800 aircraft deliveries in 2018 after record handovers in December.

The final number is subject to ongoing auditing checks, with raw operational data standing on the 800 threshold, but Airbus is said to be optimistic that the European company has all but averted its first ever missed delivery goal after output snags.

Meanwhile, both Airbus and Boeing are poised to announce net orders above the rate of deliveries, after a push to win new business at the end of the year and in the face of concerns over a downturn in the aerospace cycle, sources said.

The so-called book-to-bill ratio is an indicator of the strength of future business, and also depends on auditors signing off on last-minute activity.

Both companies declined to comment.

Airbus’s unofficial delivery tally sets a European record and marks a 9% increase when compared to 2017.

But it was boosted by the recently acquired Canadian A220 jet programme and frenetic efforts to catch up after engine delays and other snags.

Parts of the A220 programme are made at plants in Belfast.

The A220 was previously fully controlled by Canada’s Bombardier before the Canadian firm sold just over 50% in the programme to Airbus over a year ago.

There was speculation over whether Airbus had managed to reach the profit-related target, after cutting it in November due to gaps in engine supplies.

Airbus is now targeting 800 deliveries, including 18 A220 jets.

“It seems that they made it,” said one source.

Shares in the European aircraft maker fell sharply last week after earlier signs that Airbus was unlikely to meet the target, including a report that it had fallen short by up to nine jets.

Industry sources later said they did not rule out that Airbus would pull off a positive surprise as figures were compiled and audited. Airbus was due to publish full-year data on Friday but may bring this forward.

Airbus shares were up over 3% in Paris trade.

Reuters with additional reporting by Irish Examiner

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