Airbus retains place as the world′s leading plane maker | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 12.01.2010
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Airbus retains place as the world's leading plane maker

European airplane manufacturer Airbus has announced that it has beaten rival Boeing in terms of aircraft production for the past year. However, the company needs some help with its problematic military plane project.

The Airbus A380 in the air

The Airbus A380 delivery figures for the year proved "disappointing"

Airbus delivered 498 aircraft last year - beating the record that it set in 2008 by 15.

The figure is also higher than North American rival Boeing's tally for the year of 481 aircraft, maintaining Airbus's place as the world's largest airplane maker.

Airbus also received more orders during the year - 310 compared with Boeing's 263.

The group's production last year was 5 percent lower than had been forecast, but the figures were viewed as positive in the light of a global economic downturn.

"The crisis year 2009 was a successful year for us," said Airbus chief Thomas Enders. "This year we want to reach a production level somewhat higher than 2008 and 2009."

Airbus boss Tom Enders, with a model plane in the foreground

Airbus boss Tom Enders said that the military plane project posed serious risks

Despite this, Enders said that the company's results as a whole masked "disappointment" over the performance of the A380 Superjumbo project. The company only managed to deliver 10 A380s last year - considerably lower than its initial target of 18.

He said that the project, which suffered from initial costly delays and recent technical difficulties, would be "a financial liability" for years to come.

Viability in danger

Enders added that the over-budget A400M military plane project had put the financial viability of Airbus in jeopardy. Airbus wants customer governments, including Germany, to commit more funds. Currents costs to keep the project afloat vary between 100 and 150 million euros each month.

The Toulouse-based company employs about 52,000 people and has sites in Germany, France, the UK and Spain.

Despite increased deliveries for Airbus, its parent firm the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company reported that turnover in 2009 dropped to an estimated 41.7 billion euros (60.5 billion dollars) – down slightly from 43.3 billion in 2008.

Editor: Michael Lawton

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