Boeing Maintains Its Lead Over Airbus for Commercial Airplane Deliveries in 2018

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The year 2018 was another solid one for airplane orders around the planet. It turns out that the race between Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Airbus for global domination in plane deliveries was closer than many might think. Boeing looks to have squeezed out a small gain over Airbus for the most plane deliveries in 2018.

Airbus issued a press release on Tuesday indicating that it achieved 800 commercial aircraft deliveries in 2018. That formal figure will not be released until Wednesday afternoon, and Airbus further noted that its delivery figures are subject to the finalization of its auditing process.

Boeing reported on Tuesday that it had 238 deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2018, for a total of 806 deliveries in 2018 as a whole.

The level of 800-ish deliveries was an annual gain for each aircraft maker, and these are impressive growth numbers from each company over 2017. Boeing reported in January of 2018 that it had set an industry record with 763 deliveries in 2017, driven by high output of the market-leading 737 and 787 jets. Airbus’ total deliveries of 718 aircraft in 2017 was a record for it as well.

An overwhelming majority of Boeing’s deliveries in 2018 came from the 737 family, accounting for 580 deliveries, or about 72% of all deliveries. The 787 Dreamliner program finished with 145 deliveries for the year.

There is a caveat here in Boeing’s numbers. The 767 plane deliveries of 27 in 2018 were shown to include the transfer of 10 of its 767-2C aircraft to Boeing Defense, Space & Security for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46 tanker program.

Looking forward, Boeing has noted 900 net plane orders valued at over $143 billion (at list prices) after taking in 200 orders in December. Boeing also reported that its backlog is now at seven years. And within the total orders and deliveries over time, Boeing has said that its 737 MAX family has now surpassed 5,000 orders and its 777 family has surpassed 2,000 orders. Boeing also increased production of the popular 737 in the middle of 2018 to 52 airplanes per month.

Positive reactions were seen in the shares of both aircraft makers. Shares of Airbus were up almost 4% at €87.75 in Frankfurt, in a 52-week range of €78.90 to €111.00. Boeing’s share price gain of 3.1% to $338.35 in midday trading compares to a 52-week range of $292.47 to $394.28.