The ongoing disagreement between Airbus and Boeing over just how many aircraft in the 400-plus seat market are needed came to Asian Aerospace yesterday.
Boeing said it believed that its newly launched Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380 would pick up around 300 orders each (excluding freighters). Airbus says the market is worth more like 1,500 – 1,600 over 20 years.
“Boeing is underestimating the capacity of the market for the A380,” said John Leahy, chief operating officer, Customers for Airbus at the show yesterday. “I think it’s rather silly of them to say it’s only three or four hundred. It is clearly 1,500 to 1,600 or maybe more.”
Airbus and Boeing are at the show on the back of an astonishing, record year for sales for both sides. Airbus ended the year with orders of 1,111 aircraft, just beating Boeing although the latter won the year’s contest in terms of order value.
The European manufacturer dismissed a claim that the order for 150 A320 aircraft from China should not have been included in the tally as it had not met all the criteria for logging orders.
Leahy refuted the claim, saying that Airbus had both the order documentation and deposits paid, and that the orders had been audited by two separate organisations.
He also refuted the suggestion that Airbus was “weak on widebody sales” in 2005. “If that was weak then I would like another year like it,” he said. “It was a record year for us.”
Average sales for Airbus widebodies are around 80 a year, he said, adding that the average more than doubled in 2005. “I would hope we will also have a record year in 2006,” he added.
Airbus president and chief executive Gustav Humbert sought to put the record orders year into a broader perspective.
While the traditional parameters of orders and deliveries were important, he added additional ones – backlog, profitability and customer satisfaction.
The Airbus backlog has hit a record 2,100 aircraft. “This is a record and not only in Airbus,” he said. “This ensures production for five years and stabilises the business and the financials.”
Even more important was to ensure that the business was profitable, he added. “The return on sales in 2005 was 10% for the first time ever. As long as we remain in the 40% to 60% band for market share that is okay, but I would rather have a 1% increase in profitability than a 1% increase in market share.”
Finally, most important of all was his last key performance indicator – customer satisfaction.
“We can talk about backlog, market share and profitability but the most important to us is customer satisfaction,” he said. “We like happy customers and this is our top priority.”
Source: Flight Daily News