Airbus may not reach 300-plane
The top executive of Airbus' majority owner said last month that the European airplane maker will have trouble meeting its 300-airplane delivery forecast in 2003, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Bloomberg.
Boeing has said it expects to deliver 280 jetliners this year.
Although Airbus has pulled ahead of Boeing in new airplane orders, including in the past two years, it has never come close to Boeing in jetliner production.
The Airbus target of 300 deliveries ''can be reached but only with great difficulties,'' said Rainer Hertrich, co-chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. Airbus is 80 percent owned by EADS. His mid-February comments sent shares of EADS to the lowest level since the company began trading publicly in July 2000.
Noel Forgeard, chief executive of Airbus, had warned in January that 2003 would be a very difficult year for Airbus because of the ongoing industry slump. But Airbus has not backed away from its forecast that it will deliver 300 planes this year and next.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes executives have long maintained that deliveries, not orders, are a better measure of how Boeing stacks up against Airbus. That's because orders can be canceled. What rolls out the factory is what counts, Boeing said.
Airbus has never come close to matching Boeing's commercial factory output, but it has been closing the gap. It delivered a record 325 planes in 2001 and 303 in 2002. Boeing delivered 381 commercial jetliners last year, down from 527 in 2001.
Boeing reduced production rates far more than Airbus as a result of the industry's worst-ever downturn. Boeing executives have complained Airbus has kept production high by flooding the leasing market with unneeded airplanes just so it can boast that it finally beat Boeing in deliveries.
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