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Mon, Dec 10, 2007

Boeing Sets A Record... But Will It Be THE Record?

Airbus On Track To Capture 2007 Sales Crown

By all indications, 2007 will be a banner year for Boeing and its European rival, Airbus... but while both planemakers look to beat all previous sales records, the question of which manufacturer will come out on top remains up in the air.

Last week, Boeing posted an impressive 95 additional orders for its planes -- putting its gross orders for 2007 at 1,154, with 21 days remaining on the year. That surpasses the record set by Airbus in 2005, when that planemaker surprised analysts -- and us -- by posting 1,111 gross orders.

And speaking of Airbus... it appears likely the planemaker will post even better numbers than Boeing this year, as well. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports through October, Airbus had posted 1,021 gross orders -- which doesn't include the 163 firm orders Airbus took in at the Dubai Air Show. The planemaker also snagged 132 commitments at the November show... which Airbus is likely working to turn into firm orders before the end of the year.

"This is an amazing cycle," said Martin Bentrott, the new Boeing Commercial Airplanes sales representative for Africa and the Middle East, said in an interview with the P-I last week. "It's phenomenal. I have never seen this before."

Combined, Boeing and Airbus have sold over 6,000 airliners in the past three years. Bentrott notes Boeing is now taking 777 orders out to 2014, and orders for its upcoming 787 Dreamliner out to 2017. Even the stalwart 737 narrowbody is booked out through 2015.

Neither Boeing nor Airbus expect the good times to last, however. Both planemakers expect a sharp drop in orders next year... though they also said the same thing for 2007.

"Everyone is calling us sandbaggers in the sales department because the orders are way above what we forecast," Bentrott said.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.airbus.com

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