Airbus set to topple Boeing as biggest plane maker | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 10.07.2019
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Airbus set to topple Boeing as biggest plane maker

Boeing has seen a sharp fall in deliveries as its best-selling MAX jets remain grounded following two fatal crashes. The US plane maker has not reported any new orders for the MAX planes for three months on the trot.

Europe's Airbus is poised to become the world's biggest plane maker this year as its US rival Boeing struggles to get its best-selling MAX jets back in the skies.

Boeing — which has led Airbus since 2012 — on Tuesday reported a 37% drop in deliveries in the first half of 2019, mainly hurt by the the grounding of the MAX aircraft.

The US plane maker's deliveries of 239 planes through June lagged the 389 delivered by its European rival which is on course to deliver a record number of planes this year.

Boeing's 737 MAX jets have remained grounded since March following a fatal crash of the plane in Ethiopia that killed 157 people. The tragedy took place less than five months after another MAX crashed in the Java Sea off the Indonesian coast, killing 189 people.

Boeing, which is facing several compensation claims from victims' families and airlines hit by the grounding, has not reported any new orders for its MAX planes since the crash in Ethiopia. It has slowed down production to 42 MAX jets per month from 52 earlier, causing the plane maker to take a $1 billion charge in the first quarter. Analysts say the company could take a second charge from the production cut when it reports its second-quarter earnings on July 24.

The single-aisle 737 MAX, first delivered in May 2017, has been Boeing's best-selling plane ever, with more than 350 planes registered and about 5,000 on order. The MAX program is critical to the company. It represents nearly 80% of Boeing's commercial aircraft order backlog and nearly 60% by value.

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Boeing creates fund for crash victims' families

Boeing-Airbus rivalry

Boeing and Airbus have been involved in a fierce competition over the past decade to win orders for new jets and occupy the top spot in the jetliner industry. The two are also part of a 15-year-old World Trade Organization dispute, blaming each other of being unfairly subsidized by their governments.

Airbus reigned as the world' biggest plane maker for a decade till 2012 when Boeing regained the top spot after delivering more jets.

Boeing launched its 737 MAX planes in response to Airbus' fuel-efficient, single-aisle A320 Neo jets which became an instant success among airlines. The two rivals have combined orders in excess of 11,500 for the two jets, underscoring airlines' preference for fuel-efficient jets.

Airbus plans to set a new industry record by shipping up to 890 planes this year. Boeing had planned to deliver more than 900 aircraft but has suspended its delivery forecast following the MAX groundings.

Airbus, which saw deliveries rise 28% in the first half of 2019, posted 88 net orders for the same period compared with Boeing's negative net total of 119 aircraft. The US plane maker saw more cancellations than orders during that period. Boeing this week lost a potential deal for 50 MAX planes from Saudi budget airline Flyadeal, which instead opted for the Airbus rival.

Boeing's order book does not yet include a letter of intent for 200 MAX planes announced by British Airways owner IAG at the Paris air show last month.

Boeing, however, continues to lead Airbus in deliveries of wide-body, larger planes, such as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and Airbus' A350, which enjoy bigger profit margins. Boeing recorded 61 net orders compared with Airbus' negative tally of 35 wide-body planes after cancellations.

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