Airbus Backlog of $1 Trillion Makes Boeing Look Smaller Than It Is

Print Email

Airbus Group, the parent of European aircraft builder Airbus, reported first-quarter results Thursday morning. Revenues totaled €12.1 billion (about $13.5 billion), down about 4% compared with the first quarter of 2014. Earnings per share rose by 80%, from €0.56 to €1.01 (about $1.13).

Of more interest perhaps is the company’s order book for the quarter and its backlog of orders for commercial planes. The company took new orders for 101 commercial jets in the first quarter of the year, about even with last year’s first quarter orders of 103. Gross orders for the quarter totaled 121, and a total of 20 orders were cancelled, 10 for the A320neo and 10 for the A321neo.

The Airbus backlog now totals more than 6,300 commercial planes, or more than 10 years of production at its current pace of around 625 new jets a year. The company reported Thursday that its order book value rose to €955 billion at the end of the quarter, compared with €858 billion at the end of December. The totals take into account a positive revaluation linked to the strong U.S. dollar and is given at list prices. At the current euro-to-dollar exchange rate, the order book value is about $1.07 trillion.

Airbus has beaten rival aircraft maker Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) to be the first to reach $1 trillion worth of backlog. Boeing wrote a total of 116 net new orders in the first quarter of 2015, and the company’s backlog was just over 5,700 planes. On the company’s conference call last week, the chief financial officer said Boeing’s backlog was valued at $435 billion.

ALSO READ: Did Boeing Outsmart Airbus on Super-Jumbo Planes?

The difference between the two numbers is too wide to be a comparison between apples and apples. The likely explanation is that Airbus is calculating the value of its backlog on the basis of list prices and Boeing is calculating its backlog on how much the company actually expects to be paid. Neither company wants to make it easy for people to understand anything about their businesses.

In any event, all that’s at stake here are mere bragging rights, but the numbers are impressive. Only 15 countries had total GDP in 2013 that topped $1 trillion. Only 27 had GDP totals that were above $435 billion. Airbus and Boeing combined would rank 13th on the 2013 GDP list, ahead of Spain and behind Australia.