by Benjamin Katzo
Airbus SE delivered more aircraft than it planned last year, setting it up to retain the title of the world’s largest commercial planmaker when rival Boeing Company published its figures on Tuesday.
The European company said it delivered some 611 commercial aircraft in 2021, ahead of its target of handing over 600 jets to customers. Boeing handed over 302 aircraft to customers during November, with analysts forecasting about 337 deliveries for the full year.
While the tally increased by 8% compared to 2020, it is still Airbus’ lowest total since 2012 as the planner works to recover its manufacturing rates after slashing production in response to the pandemic.
It is the third year in a row that Airbus has surpassed Boeing in the annual race for aircraft delivery, following two crashes of its best-selling 737 MAX that grounded the jet and halted production.
While Boeing was able to resume deliveries of the narrowbody model in December 2020, it was much slower than Airbus, which has outlined a much more aggressive recovery plan to return to pre-Covid production levels. The US airframer is also grappling with production issues on its 787 widebody, which has halted deliveries over the past year.
Airbus more than doubled its gross orders from 2020 with a total of 771 new sales, a sign that air travel is improving.
“The year saw significant orders from airlines around the world, indicating confidence in the sustainable growth of air travel post-covidAirbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement. “While uncertainty remains, we are on track to increase production by 2022 to meet the needs of our customers.”