Airbus has hailed 2011 as a record year for both orders and deliveries. Tom Enders, the European airframer’s president and CEO, told a January 17 joint press conference with parent group EADS that 2012 will see Airbus facing further challenges to streamline production rates and supply-chain issues, while also focusing on keeping the development of the new A350XWB widebody on track following the November 2011 confirmation of a program delay.
In 2011, Airbus delivered 534 airliners to 88 customers, including 10 new operators—marking the 10th successive year of production increases. The company also secured net new orders for 1,419 airliners after taking account of 189 cancellations.
Not included in the final 2011 order tally are 130 A320neos and 130 existing A320 narrowbodies ordered last July by American Airlines. Enders told the press conference in Hamburg, Germany, that it could not regard these orders as firm because American Airlines has since entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. “We have every confidence that they [American] will come out of this strengthened and that the Neo is just the aircraft that airlines need when coming out of Chapter 11 because of the savings it offers,” he commented.
The 1,226 firm sales of the new A320neo dominated Airbus’s order book last year, prompting the consortium to claim a 70-percent share of the narrowbody market. “We will continue to dominate this sector because the A320neo is better than a re-engined 737,” said Airbus COO John Leahy. “Boeing helped us out last year by not getting its act together [on time] with 737MAX.”
Separately, EADS CEO Louis Gallois indicated that the European group’s board might take until late May to settle its new management structure and confirm the appointment of his successor. Tom Enders is widely expected to be named as EADS’s new CEO, but it is increasingly clear that French and German political leaders are stalling over confirmation due to disagreement over other management changes and positions.