Exclusive: Airbus may post 8 percent rise in 2016 deliveries, narrow gap with Boeing

Mon Jan 9, 2017 4:48pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) is set to post an 8 percent rise in deliveries for 2016, beating expectations, after a sprint to the finish line that narrowed the gap with arch-rival Boeing, according to industry experts and records of aircraft movements.

The European planemaker was forced to accelerate deliveries sharply in December to meet its target after production problems earlier in the year.

It delivered over 100 jets last month, a Reuters analysis of flight-tracking data supplied by FlightRadar24, unofficial airport data and plane-watcher reports suggests, lifting its 2016 tally well above 680 including 60 of the delayed A320neo.

One industry expert estimated the total as high as 688, well above the company's informal target of more than 670.

Airbus remains in second place behind Boeing (BA.N: Quote), but its growth contrasts with a 2 percent drop in 2016 deliveries reported by its U.S. nemesis last week, to 748 planes.

The higher-than-expected Airbus performance, up from 635 in 2015, is the latest evidence that planemakers are racing to whittle down big order backlogs and hoard cash as they face a potentially worsening slowdown in orders that began in 2015.

Boeing temporarily eased output last year to make way for a new model but, like Airbus, plans to increase production of its best-selling aircraft.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment.   Continued...

The logo of Airbus is pictured on a scale model of an Airbus A350-1000 during its maiden flight event in Colomiers near Toulouse, Southwestern France, November 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo