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Monday, January 11, 1999 Published at 18:04 GMT


Business: The Company File

Airbus taking off

Airbus reports buoyant figures as Boeing cuts production and jobs

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus Industrie, part-owned by British Aerospace, has reported glowing sales figures as its American rival Boeing has a dip in fortunes.

Airbus's results show sharp rises in sales and orders for its planes, just weeks after Boeing said it planned to cut jobs and production levels.

The European concern received 556 firm orders for new aircraft worth £23.5bn ($39bn), up from 460 orders worth £17.9bn ($29.6bn) the previous year.

Airbus, also owned by France's Aerospatiale, Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas and Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace is the main competitor for America's Boeing.

Airbus president Noel Forgeard said: "I am happy that the year 1998 allowed Airbus to reach its goal of achieving about 50% of the world market."

Sales in 1998 came from 36 customers, 14 of which had never bought directly from Airbus before.

Strong Asia sales

Sales were strong in Latin and North America, Europe and the Middle East, while Airbus continues to further its presence in Asia despite the ongoing economic crisis in the region.


[ image: Airbus and Boeing are the two global commerical plane manufacturers]
Airbus and Boeing are the two global commerical plane manufacturers
The plane-manufacturer said demand had been strong for second-hand aircraft, helping increase the number of Airbus Industrie operators by 10% to 160 by the end of 1998.

The most popular line was the A319, A320 and A321, with orders placed for 497.

Commenting on Europe's new single currency, Mr Forgeard said clients will have the choice whether to buy planes in euros or US dollars.

In Boeing's slipstream

Airbus Industrie said it received firm orders for 556 passenger jets in 1998, 100 fewer than the 656 orders worth $42.1bn already announced by Boeing.

But Airbus and Boeing regularly dispute each other's reporting methods.

Airbus has accused Boeing of lumping firm orders with non-binding commitments to swell its numbers, while the US company objects to Airbus's market-share claims based on total numbers of aircraft.


[ image: Boeing queries how Airbus reaches its figures]
Boeing queries how Airbus reaches its figures
Boeing has a near-monopoly in the high-margin market with its large 777 twinjets and 747 jumbos, allowing it to outsell Airbus in dollar terms.

Airbus says it wants to win a half share of the world market in both aircraft and in value.

Airbus's 1998 turnover totalled $13.3bn with 229 aircraft delivered, up from $11.6bn in 1997.

Boeing has disappointed the stock market with recent profit warnings and plans to scale back production that will involve lay-offs of up to 48,000 workers.

It blames the Asian crisis for its problems and Airbus's aggressive pricing policy. Airbus rejects the charges, saying Boeing's problems stem from what it calls its inability to forecast market demand and keep control of manufacturing processes. "Airbus Industrie's stated goal is to maintain its strong share of approximately half the commercial market, while improving profitability," the consortium said.

  • Airbus said work was continuing on a double-decker jumbo jetliner, codenamed the A3XX project, which could seat from 555 to 800 people.





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