Boeing beats Airbus with record-setting plane deliveries

Boeing Co delivered a record 806 aircraft in 2018 as it overcame supplier woes, retaining the title of the world’s biggest plane maker for the seventh straight year.

European rival Airbus met its own 800-jet target, pending final audit, but is certain to lag behind Boeing due to engine delays.

Airbus provisionally hit its main industrial target of 800 aircraft deliveries in 2018 after record handovers in December.

Boeing’s shares rose as much as 3.9 percent to $340.90 and were the biggest percentage gainer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Investors and analysts closely watch the number of planes Boeing turns over to airlines and leasing firms for hints on the company’s cash flow and revenue.

The latest numbers indicate that fuselage and engine delays at suppliers in 2018 are largely behind Boeing as it gears up to meet surging demand for airplanes in 2019 amid booming air travel.

“In addition to the ongoing demand for the 737 MAX, we saw strong sales for every one of our twin-aisle airplanes,” said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing.

To mitigate supply chain snarls, Boeing helped expand production capacity at suppliers who have hired workers, including retirees this year.

In October, its biggest supplier Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc said it was back on track to meet the surging demand for its aircraft parts.

CFM International, co-owned by France’s Safran and General Electric Co, also affirmed in the same month its commitment to deliver 1,100 to 1,200 units despite being roughly four weeks behind schedule.

Boeing also looked set to beat Airbus for aircraft orders on a like-for-like basis in 2018 after booking 893 net orders, excluding cancellations in the year.

Meanwhile, Airbus ended November with 380 net orders, to which it has since added confirmed deals for another 220 aircraft.

According to industry sources, it won another 150 from Asian-backed leasing companies that are yet to be announced, with Boeing also getting a lift from Chinese demand.

Orders for Boeing and Airbus are seen down compared to 2017 as airlines fret over trade tensions and the slowing global economic growth. But deliveries at both rose on the back of an earlier order boom.

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