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Boeing lags Airbus in plane orders this year

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Boeing Co booked only 57 commercial plane orders in April, its lowest monthly total since October last year, and still lags rival Airbus in the race for sales this year.

But the Chicago-based plane maker, which scored an industry record 1,413 net orders last year, is still on track to hit 1,000 annual orders for the fourth year in a row after never before exceeding that amount. According to Boeing’s online order book (http://active.boeing.com/commercial/orders/index.cfm), updated every Thursday, Boeing has 346 net orders for the year so far, above the 325 it had on its books last year, but still well short of Airbus’ tally of 395 at the end of March.

Boeing booked 57 plane orders last month, compared with 136 last April and 99 in March. It sold no planes at all in the past week, and in the past month sold only four of its new 787 Dreamliner model, which is now seriously delayed. Early last month Boeing announced the third major delay on the 787, pushing it about 15 months behind schedule, as it makes slow progress on assembling the revolutionary carbon-composite plane and continues to grapple with underperforming suppliers. None of the 55 or so airlines which have bought the plane have canceled their orders, but many have said they will seek compensation for late deliveries. The delay mirrors the long-running wiring problems on Airbus’ A380 superjumbo, which ended up two years late and put a big hole in the finances of parent EADS.

Both Boeing and Airbus have played down expectations for plane orders this year, after the unprecedented boom which resulted in 2,754 orders between them last year. Most analysts are expecting about half that number this year. The shape of the year will likely become clearer at July’s Farnborough International Airshow in Britain, when airlines like to unveil big plane orders. (Reuters)

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