Analysis: Airlines break delivery record as shipments reach 1,000 units

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Airlines took delivery of a record 1,000 mainline aircraft last year, as production broke the four-figure threshold for the first time. Shipments are expected to rise by another 10% in 2012.

This comes on the back of a stellar sales year for Airbus and, to a lesser extent, Boeing, which at 2,224 net orders was second only to the 2,754 signed in 2007.

Deliveries reached 1,011 units, with Airbus again the market leader shipping 534 aircraft. Boeing trailed on 477, as more hold-ups in the much-revised 787 delivery plan prevented it from handing over as many aircraft as it hoped.Combined mainline airliner production has risen steadily in the last 10 years from about 590 in 2003.

Airbus expects to raise production by about 7% to 570 aircraft this year, and with Boeing shipments set to rise as series production of the 747-8 and 787 gets fully under way, total deliveries in 2012 should reach around 1,100 units.

Airbus dominated in the order stakes, thanks largely to its re-engined A320neo success for which it secured almost 1,230 orders. In total, Toulouse landed 1,419 net orders, giving it a 64% market share - its most dominant performance ever over its rival.

However, with Boeing playing catch-up - it launched its re-engined rival the 737 Max in August - Airbus is preparing the ground for a possible thrashing in 2012.

"Part of our success in 2011 was down to Boeing not getting its act together on the 737 Max," says Airbus chief salesman John Leahy. "I wouldn't even be surprised if we go below 50% share this year, but 2011 and 2012 added together, we intend to stay above 50%."

The combined backlog has risen 17% during the past 12 months to more than 8,200 aircraft.