After the disastrous start to their 2009 sales campaigns suffered by Airbus and Boeing, the mainline jet market appears to have made a strong recovery this year with over 140 orders accumulated in the first three months. Output, meanwhile, continues to hold level.

Boeing, which was haemorrhaging 787 orders a year ago and ended the quarter with its net orders in deficit, has enjoyed a much brighter 2010 with 83 net orders. But the airframer lost more 787 orders, which made up the bulk of the 17 cancellations it suffered.

Airbus, which only just broke into positive numbers in the initial quarter of 2009, had a cleaner start to 2010, suffering no cancellations. Although it booked a healthy 60 orders, the bulk of these came from two customers who firmed up commitments in March - United Airlines for 25 A350s and Malaysia Airlines for 17 A330s.

Airbus and Boeing deliveries and orders Q1 - 2010

Despite cries for rate cuts, the European airframer saw a rise in deliveries in the first quarter with 122 shipments, 5% up on last year. Included were 100 single-aisle aircraft, but only three A380s as Airbus continues to struggle to get to grips with the ramp-up of its flagship programme.

Boeing's deliveries declined slightly from 121 last year to 108, although the 2009 tally reflects the higher output rate that followed the stoppage after 2008's industrial action. With just two product lines delivering, Boeing must wait until 2011 when 747-8 and 787 shipments begin for a chance to see output rising above its rival.

The combined order backlog has dropped slightly from the end of 2009 to 6,776 - which is down by more than 400 units from the same period last year. While Airbus retains its slight market share advantage over Boeing, one member of its product line appears to be close to the end - the A340's backlog has declined to just six aircraft (one -600 and five -500s) and no new net orders have been accumulated for more than a year.

Source: Flight International