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Boeing Poised to Reclaim Jet-Maker Crown Lost to Airbus


Boeing Co. is poised to retake the global lead in jetliner deliveries for the first time in almost a decade, after delivering an estimated two dozen more jets through November than Airbus SAS, its larger rival.

Boeing probably delivered 51 airliners to customers last month, analysts including David Strauss with UBS AG and Peter Arment with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. calculated this week. That would bring the total this year through November to 537 and compares with Airbus’s 516 deliveries. The planemaker is scheduled to announce its monthly orders and deliveries today.

“Boeing will go through a window over the next few years where they’re going to produce significantly more airplanes than Airbus, and that really is reflecting the 787 production,” Arment said in an interview. Airbus’s rival to the 787 Dreamliner jet, the A350, “won’t enter the market really in any material way until the middle of the decade,” he said.

The 787 was more than three years late when it entered service last year after Boeing struggled with the plane’s new composite materials and production system. Boeing has increased production of the plane this year and has said it’s on track to reach its goal of building 10 a month by the end of 2013. It’s also boosting output of its other jets that will give a planned 60 percent surge in production in four years through 2014.

New Deliveries

Boeing delivered five 787s in November, according to Strauss, which would mean it has already achieved the low end of its target for deliveries of 35 to 42 of the planes this year.

The length of time it’s taking to deliver the new Dreamliners is dropping, according to Strauss and Arment. Strauss estimates it took nine months on average for the five November 787 deliveries to reach customers after rolling off the production line, a narrower window than the 10-month average delivery time he says it took for the total of 38 jets so far delivered.

Deliveries are important because that’s when Boeing gets about 40 percent of the purchase price of a jet. Toulouse, France-based Airbus had surpassed the Chicago-based planemaker on deliveries every year since 2003.

A change in delivery ranking doesn’t reflect any big market share-shift as orders show that the customer base has stayed relatively stable between the two planemakers, Arment said.

Upgraded Jet

Boeing had won 1,056 orders through Nov. 27, beating Airbus’s 585 through the end of the month. Last year, Airbus won a record 1,419 orders, compared to Boeing’s 805, after the European company began selling an upgraded version of its A320 single-aisle jet at the end of 2010. Boeing didn’t follow suit with improvements on its rival 737 jet until late last year, which accounted for most of this year’s orders.

Boeing has projected it would deliver 585 to 600 aircraft this year, while Airbus predicted 570. Last year, Airbus delivered 534 aircraft, more than Boeing’s 477.

“It’s been a year of execution,” Arment said. “They have hit milestones, and it’s time to keep the momentum going.”

Boeing’s stock has gained less than 1 percent this year. That compares with a 13 percent gain in shares of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

(Source: Bloomberg)