Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Airbus takes top planemaking spot

Airbus A380 landing in Nice
Airbus expects to deliver 18 of its Airbus A380s in 2009

European planemaker Airbus took top spot in global jet plane deliveries and orders during 2008.

Airbus saw a 7% rise in deliveries to a record 483 planes. US rival Boeing - hit by a machinists' strike - saw its deliveries fall by 15% to 375 planes.

It also outsold Boeing, with orders for 777 jets, down 42% from the previous year. Last week, Boeing said it sold 662 aircraft in 2008, down 53% on 2007.

Airbus is restructuring to cope with currency volatility and other issues.

It said its Power8 cost-cutting programme had saved 1.3bn euros ($1.7bn; 1.2bn).

'Challenging 2009'

The pan-European firm sold planes worth $100bn (68bn) in 2008, giving it a market share of 54%.

2000: Airbus 311, Boeing 491
2001: Airbus 325, Boeing 527
2002: Airbus 303, Boeing 381
2003: Airbus 305, Boeing 281
2004: Airbus 320, Boeing 285
2005: Airbus 378, Boeing 290
2006: Airbus 434, Boeing 398
2007: Airbus 453, Boeing 441
2008: Airbus 483, Boeing 375

And it said it had a backlog of 3,715 jets, which it is estimated it would take six years to clear, although this could be reduced to four years with cancellations.

Boeing, whose production was hit by a 58-day machinists' strike, said it had 662 orders for commercial aircraft at the end of 2008.

"We have a backlog of around 3700 orders and we feel we are well posititioned going into 2009 and beyond," a Boeing spokesman told the BBC.

Last year, Airbus sold a net total of 472 single-aisle aircraft and 310 wide-body models, including nine A380 superjumbos.

Meanwhile, Airbus has cut its A380 delivery forecast for 2009 to 18 planes. In 2008 it delivered 12 of the aircraft.

"We all know that 2009 will be a very challenging year for the aeronautics industry," said Airbus chief Tom Enders.

"At Airbus we are well prepared and confident."

Subsidy row

The two aircraft giants are locked in a dispute over claims that they are each receiving commercial aircraft subsidies, with the issue awaiting rulings from the World Trade Organization.

The EU and US have accused each other of providing illegal subsidies to the companies.

Brussels has accused the US of giving Boeing almost $24bn in state aid.

The US has accused Britain, France, Germany and Spain of supporting Airbus' development to the tune of $15bn - which, it argues, has saved Airbus as much as $100bn over the years.

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