Airbus delivered more aircraft than Boeing (NYSE: BA) did last year. Delays in delivery of the 787 Dreamliner have cost Boeing sales. Now, it must recover in a period in which high fuel costs and a possible recession may undermine demand. Poor management of its product line has eroded the company’s ability to overtake Airbus.
Boeing delivered 477 aircraft last year. The Airbus figure is expected to be 10% to 20% higher.
Airbus holds a lead that is likely to keep it in the top spot for some time. According to Reuters, “Boeing’s order total of 805 comes in second to Airbus’ order tally, which stood at 1,378 net orders at the end of November.”
It is impossible to know how many airlines turned away from Boeing as a source for mid-sized long-range airplanes when the Dreamliner was delayed several times, and for as long as five years. Certainly the history of the plane will be viewed as one of the great debacles in recent U.S. corporate history. Boeing broke enough promises about the delivery schedule that many of the world’s largest airlines are certain to be skeptical about delivery timetables for future Boeing products.
Boeing’s next challenges include more than delivery problems with the Dreamliner. The company has made a mistake in not replacing the aged 747. It has updated the old plane, but not enough to attract many new customers. Airbus’s 380 super jumbo is the large long-range plane of the future. The aircraft has had some quality problems of its own, but they likely are not substantial enough to delay the delivery dates for the aircraft.
Boeing made a series of mistakes with the 787, and it will not recover from them for years.
Douglas A. McIntyre