Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Airbus Industrie took two thirds of the 350 orders placed during the first half of 1999, providing further agony for Boeing as it works to improve its financial situation.

Official figures from Airbus show that 234 firm orders were taken between January and June, against 120 for Boeing. Allowing for cancellations and backlog adjustments, due to order swaps for example, Airbus rounded off the first half with 242 net orders, compared with 104 for its US rival.

The European consortium's single-aisle A320 family represents the bulk of Airbus's sales success, with the four types taking 210 orders. Included in this total were the first orders for the new 107-seat A318. Boeing secured 91 orders (plus six 737 Classic sales) for its rival Next Generation 737 family, but no deals were signed for the new 717 twinjet.

Widebody sales continue to be slow, with Airbus taking 24 A330/A340 orders and Boeing 22 747s, 767s and 777s. Both companies suffered widebody cancellations, with Airbus losing nine orders and Boeing 14.

The 747 backlog continues to decline and stands at 76 units. The 12 new 747 orders were offset by a similar number of cancellations, including seven United Airlines orders swapped for nine 777s. Despite this swap, the 777 orderbook failed to grow, as new orders were offset by 10 Asiana 777 cancellations.

Boeing's high delivery rate and relatively low order intake has reduced its backlog from 1,786 at the end of last year, to 1,577 at the beginning of July.

This has allowed Airbus to make ground in its efforts to take 50% of the market. The consortium holds 47% of the backlog, compared to 42% at the end of 1998.

Source: Flight International