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Airbus: 2005 orders will be in 'similar ballpark' to Boeing's

Airbus has given an early indication that it expects its year-end order total to match that of Boeing, which released a record order tally on Thursday.

The European airframe manufacturer says its orders for 2005 will be in a “similar ballpark” as its US rival after strong activity in December.

Following a bumper year for aircraft orders, Boeing announced it secured a record gross order total of 1,029 commercial aircraft in 2005. Many had assumed Boeing had won the annual race to lead the airliner market.

But on Friday, flightinternational.com revealed that if it were able to convert enough of its commitments into firm orders, Airbus could still snatch a victory.

Airbus will not announce its final figures for 2005 until a press conference on 17 January in Paris. The European manufacturer had booked 687 aircraft orders by the end of November.

But it has since announced agreements for more than 270 aircraft and has other earlier announced sizeable outstanding agreements to firm up – though it remains to be seen how much of this has been has booked as firm orders for 2005.

The European manufacturer has now given its strongest hint yet that it expects December to have been a strong enough month for it to catch up or even surpass Boeing.

Airbus itself rejects suggestions of a significant gap between its total and Boeing’s for the year, and says its order intake will be in a similar ballpark to its rival. But it will not be drawn on a precise figure for the year.

GRAHAM DUNN  & JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON

Kieran Daly is going out on a limb with his prediction. Read his blog.

Make your own predictions in our online poll of total Airbus and Boeing 2005 gross orders.

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