Airbus is leading the way in the skies over rival Boeing. Orders have taken off for the European company putting it ahead of the US planemaker after an unprecedented surge saw it book 468 orders for the month of December.
The company’s shares, which in December suffered their worst one-day plunge in more than six years after a prediction of flat profits, were up 0.3 percent.
Airbus clung to the top spot with 1,456 orders to Boeing’s 1,432. But the US manufacturer retains its place as the world’s largest plane maker for the third year running as it outstripped Airbus for deliveries with 723 compared to 629 from Airbus.
It is a highly competitive battle between the two companies. New orders are at the heart of the most critical element of all – future market share. At year end Airbus commanded over 50 percent market share for aircraft with more than 110 seats.
Last month the company made its first delivery of the new A350 to Qatar Airways. The jet is seen as crucial in its bid to retain top spot.
Antoine Juillard of euronews talked with Fabrice Bregier the Chief Executive of Airbus and asked him what the company’s ambitions are for the aircraft.
Fabrice Bregier: “We launched this new plane, which has been manufactured with many composite materials including the entire fuselage and the wings to make it lighter and so use less fuel. Since 2007 it’s been eight years of effort to deliver the first A350 to Qatar Airlines and now we are up and running.
‘We already have 750 orders and 40 clients. We will attack the market, which has a capacity of 6000. So the stakes are high for the long-term future of Airbus and the entire European aviation sector. “
euronews: “So the A350 will be your commercial driver a role which cannot be filled by the A380 due to low sales of the aircraft. In this regard will a decision be taken by Airbus whether to continue with production of the A380?”
Fabrice Bregier: “No with regard to the A380 we actually delivered 30 aircraft last year which was a good result. We will continue at that pace in the coming years. We now have feedback from the airlines and passengers which has been extremely favourable.
“This aircraft offers an unparalleled level of comfort and you know the aviation market doubles in size approximately every 15 years. It means we will need more and more large planes like the A380 so as the market expands it will find its way. One day in the future we will look at the A380’s evolution but that’s not on the agenda at the moment.”
euronews: “Can you put a cost on or give us an idea what the decline in the euro has meant for Airbus?”
Fabrice Bregier: “The fall in the euro is extremely important for all industries which export and we export 100 percent. Plus we are facing a competitor, Boeing which operates in dollars. There is an immediate effect for smaller companies which don’t have foreign exchange mechanisms. We do and so are less prone to fluctuations in one direction or the other, but ultimately we can say that a ten cents change in the euro against the dollar is more or less a billion for Airbus. So in the long run it has a huge impact for Airbus.”