Boeing, Airbus share honours in 2013 orders/deliveries race - but it's not about winners and losers

The not-quite-friendly competition between Boeing and Airbus, as to who can take the most orders and deliver the most aircraft, has seen mixed honours awarded for 2013.

Boeing announced its full year tally last week, delivering 648 aircraft and taking 1,355 orders net of cancellations (1,531 gross). Airbus announced its own orders and deliveries at the beginning of this week. The manufacturer delivered 626 aircraft for 2013 and announced firm orders of 1,503 aircraft (1,619 gross).

But the more important statistic is simply the enormously successful year for both major manufacturers, with ATR, Bombardier and Embraer also experiencing solid growth in 2013 orders and deliveries.

Fuel prices and strong travel demand have pushed the numbers up, but 2014 is less likely to create new records as massive backlogs outweigh production rates.

Both manufacturers had very strong finishes to the year. Airbus booked 211 firm orders in Dec-2013 alone. It announced orders for 100 A320s from an undisclosed customer and 20 from another undisclosed buyer, as well as 25 A330s from AirAsia X, 50 A380s from Emirates, six A350s from Air Caraibes and seven A320s from Turkish Airlines.

Airbus also cancelled five A380 orders and five A350 orders from the terminally ill Kingfisher Airlines, as well as 12 A320s from United Continental.

Boeing booked 319 orders in the same month. Like Airbus, it booked a considerable number of orders from undisclosed customers – in Boeing’s case 174 aircraft, comprising 49 773 MAX aircraft from five buyers, 132 737NGs, also from five different buyers, two 747-8s from another buyer and a single 777-300ER from an unidentified customer.

Given the level of ordering and deliveries, the “winners” and “losers” storyline being played out in most of the major media outlets over the annual competition between the two manufacturers is beside the point.

The real point is that 2013 has been a staggeringly successful year for both companies and their sales teams.

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