Airbus wins more orders, but Boeing nets more cash

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SEATTLE - Airbus topped Boeing both in the number of planes produced and in the total of new orders last year, but the U.S. company prevailed in perhaps the most important tally: the actual money received for airplanes delivered to customers.

Whether calculated on list prices or on more realistic data using standard sales discounts, Boeing's deliveries were worth about $4 billion more than Airbus's.

Airbus said Tuesday that it won 271 net orders versus Boeing's 142, and delivered a company record 498 airplanes compared to Boeing's 481. The European plane-maker's executives also conceded serious problems with the A380 superjumbo jet program and with the money-draining A400M military cargo plane.

Orders and deliveries are the numbers that get the most attention, but from a business perspective, the value of deliveries is key.

According to data from aircraft valuation firm Avitas, after standard sales discounts the Boeing jets delivered in 2009 were worth an estimated $32.8 billion.

Airbus' 2009 deliveries were worth an estimated $28.4 billion.

Despite delivering 17 fewer airplanes, Boeing produced a more valuable mix: Airbus's output of the more expensive large jets didn't match Boeing's 777 production line in Everett.

Airbus rolled out only 20 of its larger-sized wide-bodies: only 10 from the moribund A340 program and another 10 from the A380 superjumbo program, which has slowed to a crawl because of production issues.

In contrast, Boeing rolled out 88 of its expensive large wide-body 777s in 2009, a record pace.

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