Airbus and Boeing Deliver More than 1,000 Planes in 2011

Airbus extended its winning streak to nine years over rival Boeing by delivering more commercial planes than its American counterpart again in 2011 according to Reuters.

Airbus delivered 534 planes in 2011 while Boeing delivered 477. Both companies have received large boosts to their order sheets over the last two years as airlines climb out of an economic crises that hit the industry especially hard.

The growth is a positive sign for the aerospace industry but it has come with some reservations as analysts worry that limited credit due to financial problems in Europe could make it difficult for airlines to finance orders and manufacturers to finance production.

2012 will be an interesting year as Boeing gets a full calendar year to produce its 787. The new plane has experienced production delays and it isn’t expected to account for a large share of Boeing’s total production for the year. Boeing has a very healthy backorder for the 787 and if it can ramp up production quick enough, it could be the plane that ultimately pulls the company out of its nearly decade-long clump to its European rival.


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With 2 Weeks to Go, 2011 Safest Commercial Aviation Year on Record

Commercial aviation continued a trend toward fewer accidents and higher safety records in 2011 The Los Angeles Times reports.

So far, 2011 has been the safest year ever in commercial aviation history with fewer than 500 fatalities worldwide.

The global accident rate for January through November was 22% better than the same time last year and marked the safest period since a United Nations aviation agency began collecting data in 1945, according to the International Air Transport Assn., an airline trade group that issued a report based on the U.N. data.

Globally, there were 486 passenger and crew fatalities in the first 11 months of the year, down from 784 fatalities in the same period last year, according to the trade group. In the first 11 months of 2011, the accident rate was 2.16 per million passenger takeoffs, down from 2.78 per million in the same period last year.

Air travel has been getting safer over the last decade as new technologies and better training have led to a decrease in accidents. Last year there were zero commercial aviation fatalities in western countries.

Perry Flint, a spokesman for the trade group, said he didn’t know why the first 11 months were so safe but added that several changes over the years have improved overall aviation safety.

For example, Flint said, manufacturers now build more reliable airplanes that include backup safety systems. He added that more countries are adopting international safety standards and annual safety audits.

“In general,” he said, “the safety trend line is moving in the right direction.”

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A380 Coming to Texas

The Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airplane, is coming to Texas thanks to a new direct Lufthansa flight between Frankfurt and Houston The USA Today reports.

Houston will become the fourth U.S. city that Deutsche Lufthansa AG will serve using the jumbo jet, which is expected to hold up to 526 passengers in first class, business and economy cabins. It is the world’s largest commercial aircraft.

Officials at Bush Intercontinental Airport said they will renovate Terminal D before the A380 flights to handle the larger plane.

Bush Intercontinental Airport will be the first airport in Texas with regularly scheduled A380 flights when service kicks off next August.

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American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy

Years of economic instability, rising fuel costs, and mounting labor costs have caught up to American Airlines as it became the last of the major US legacy airlines to file for bankruptcy protection over the last decade the Los Angeles Times reports.

While the airline has struggled to remain profitable in the post 9/11 world, the company reassured passengers and investors today that bankruptcy is not the end of the road for the company.

“American Airlines remains open for business,” said Craig Kreeger, the airline’s vice president for customer experience. “It’s business as usual.”

The move will help American re-position itself, most likely by trimming costs and cutting back capacity in order to regain profitability. While the airline does not appear to be in long term jeopardy of shutting down, many of its employees stand to lose the most due to the bankruptcy filing.

Several American flight attendants and a pilot, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, said they were worried that the bankruptcy filing could lead to staff cuts, but most were not surprised by the news.

“I’ve been expecting this for 10 years,” said the pilot based in Los Angeles, who has flown for American for 26 years. “It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

The employees said they were bracing for pay cuts, layoffs and possible changes in their pensions.

“We have no way of knowing what the future holds, but I am nervous,” the pilot said.

It is unclear what the costs will look like and how many potential jobs may be lost as the company restructures. American’s shares stock was down nearly 84% closing at .27 at the end of the trading day on Tuesday.

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Boeing Lands Second Massive Order in Four Days

Coming just four days after Emirates placed the largest commercial order in Boeing’s history, Indonesia-based Lion Airlines one-upped the Middle Eastern carrier with a $22 billion order CNNMoney reports.

The deal, which was $4 billion more than the $18 billion deal Emirates signed, includes 29 737-900s and 201 of the new 737 MAX. The order includes options for another 150 planes in the future.

“With 230 airplanes at a list price of $21.7 billion, this deal when finalized will be the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing’s history by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes,” according to a statement from Boeing.

Boeing could not confirm that the new 737 MAXs will be built in the United States, where the 737s are made. “We’re still evaluating our options right now,” said Boeing spokesman Doug Adler. “We’ll probably have better idea in 6 to 8 months.”


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Boeing Lands Massive 777 Order

After taking a beating from Airbus in the narrow body market through the first half of the year, Boeing has been able to amass a similar dominance in the wide body market after landing an order from Emirates for 50 777’s with and option for 20 more.

According to The USA Today, the order is the largest commercial order in terms of dollar amount that Boeing has ever received and is a reflection of the dominance of the 777 in general over the last fifteen years.

The order is worth $18 billion at list price but could be worth $26 billion if Emirates eventually purchases the additional 20 aircraft. While Boeing and Airbus have seen an uptick un orders following the economic collapse of 2008, the Middle East in particular, led by Emirates, has been a strong market for the two plane makers.

The deal further establishes Emirates as Boeing’s best customer for the twin-engine 777, a workhorse of the carrier’s long-haul fleet.

Emirates has 95 777s in service and already had another 40 on the order books. That means it now has nearly as many of the twin-aisle planes on order as it operates.

“The 777 has really served Emirates very well in terms of the seat cost, especially when we see that the fuel price today is very high,” Emirates Chairman and CEO Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in announcing the deal.


Airbus Orders Frenzy Continues as NEO hits 1,000

It seems almost silly to compare orders numbers between both Boeing and Airbus as though the two are in the same class. Airbus beat Boeing to the punch by announcing its plans for its narrow body fleet, the A320, several months before Boeing, which basically decided to do exactly what Airbus did and re-engine its 737 instead of build a new plane.

That decision has led to the European plane manufacturer to grab a stranglehold on its American counterpart with 1,000 orders for the NEO less than a year after its launch Reuters has reported.

Those 1,000 orders this year are nearly double the amount of order Boeing has received on all of its planes combined.

Airbus has recorded 1,372 total orders this year, more than doubling Boeing’s 538 during the same time period.

The bonanza is about twice what analysts and Airbus predicted a year ago when it unveiled a more fuel-efficient version of its bestselling jet, but worries about fuel prices have sent airlines scrambling for the A320neo.

Boeing will certainly make up some ground as it offers more details on its new 737, the 737 MAX, and as it shows off its revolutionary 787 which is finally being delivered to customers after years of delays. But the major question now is whether Boeing can make up enough ground to at least remain competitive. If not, it seems that Airbus is now firmly the world’s most admired airplane manufacturer with Boeing a distant second.

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Planes are Full but Holiday Air Traffic Expected to Decrease

Despite planes flying close to capacity, The Wall Street Journal reports that the airline industry expects to see a %2 drop in passenger traffic over the holidays compared to 2010.

The decline is mostly due to a combination of higher fares, a stagnant economy and an airline industry that has struggled to remain profitable and would rather scale back and fly less planes with more passengers.

For the 12 days surrounding the holiday, the ATA forecasts about 440,000, or 2%, fewer people will fly than last year’s 23.6 million holiday travelers. But airplanes will still be packed, the trade association says, because airlines are selling fewer seats to save money.

“While demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006 peak, passengers still should expect full flights,” John Heimlich, ATA’s chief economist, said in a written statement.

The ATA predicts Friday, Nov. 18; Sunday, Nov. 27; and Monday, Nov. 28 will be the busiest travel days, with more than 85% of planes full.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, airlines will still welcome the overall traffic increase that the holiday season brings even if it is short of last year’s total. Most airlines have decided to cut capacity in order to keep costs down and avoid major losses associated with higher fuel costs. By doing so, demand remains high allowing airlines a better chance to be profitable despite potential decreases in revenue.

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Report: 787 Will Turn a Profit…In 2034

Much has been made about the struggles that Boeing faced in getting the 787 Dreamliner delivered to customers as the new plane experienced numerous delays and a work stoppage, putting it more than three years behind schedule. But with the new plane finally being delivered to customers, analysts have now turned to Boeing’s ability to make money off the revolutionary plane.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Airbus employee Javier Irastorza has analyzed the 787 and determined that it wil not be profitable for at least twenty years, maybe longer depending on Boeing’s ability to quickly mass produce the plane.

Irastorza bases his analysis on early buyers of the 787 getting an average 38 percent discount for the aircraft, meaning they paid $101 million to $104 million each. As he points out, those numbers are similar to those generated by aerospace blogger Jon Ostrower.

However, the first 58 aircraft are costing Boeing $310 million apiece, on a unit basis, Irastorza said.

The analysis should be taken with a grain of salt considering Irastorza’s works for Boeing’s largest competitor, but it does fall in line with similar predictions that the 787 will struggle for several years to make money. With nearly 900 orders for the new plane, it is nearly certain that Boeing will make a lot of money on the 787, it just isn’t clear when.

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787 Commercial Flights Set to Begin

Although there is some debate over what constitutes an official “commercial flight”, All Nippon Airways, the launch customer of the much-anticipated boeing 787, is set to begin flying passengers this week the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports.

This week’s flight, which departs Tokoyo Narita on wednesday and arrives in hong Kong, is a charter which some people paid out tens of thousands of dollars to be apart of.

Regular commercial flights will commence on November 1st when ANA begins flights between Tokyo Haneda Airport, Okayama and Hiroshima.


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