But Airbus output ahead as first quarter orders improve

Boeing's sales performance continued where it left off last year, with the US airframer leading its European rival in first quarter orders. Airbus continues to lead on output, while the two companies' backlogs are effectively in equilibrium.

The two manufacturers took 307 net orders between them during the first three months - up 25% on the same period last year. This was largely thanks to a much better performance by Airbus, which secured 122 net orders against just 70 a year ago. Boeing's 185 orders was a slight increase on the 176 in the period last year.

Airbus v Boeing orders table

Airbus's Q1 tally includes the first firm orders for the A330-200F - from Guggenheim Aviation Partners - while remarkably the seven orders from Finnair for the A340-300 means it outsold its big sister, the A340-500/600.

Meanwhile, the Boeing 767 production line - which was once threatened with closure - has received a major boost thanks to the United Parcel Service order for 27 aircraft, which has more than doubled its backlog to 61 from 28 at the end of last year.

The two airframers suffered 16 cancellations in Q1, the bulk of which resulted from UPS's decision to axe its order for 10 A380 Freighters. Boeing's four cancellations were the remaining orders for the 747-400 passenger model, which Philippine Airlines switched to a deal for two 777s.

This year's first quarter output increased 10% on last year to 221 units, with Airbus's 115 shipments keeping it top. Production of A320 Family aircraft is currently averaging roughly one aircraft a day.

The two manufacturers' backlog has nudged the 5,000-order mark, to 5,074, effectively split evenly between the two manufacturers - Airbus's lead is six units compared with 78 at the end of 2006.

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Source: Flight International