The aircraft giants showed mixed results in the traditionally slow quarter for new orders but the gap between them in deliveries, which generate most revenue, widened after Boeing handed over a record number of jets for the period.
Airbus said it had booked gross orders of 121 aircraft in January-March, beating Boeing’s 116.
After cancellations and conversions, it slipped behind Boeing with 101 net orders as opposed to 110 for Boeing.
Airbus logged 134 plane deliveries in the first quarter including one A350, its latest model, and four A380s.
Deliveries slipped from 141 in the first quarter of 2014 as the wide-body A330 fell to 20 from 28.
Airbus plans to cut monthly A330 production from nine to six from the first quarter of 2016 due to faltering demand.
Analysts say they will be looking for any signs that deliveries of the current-generation A330 are slipping even earlier than that as airlines wait for a new ‘A330neo’ version, but Airbus officials say demand for the jet remains robust.
At 42 percent, Airbus's quarterly share of total deliveries compared with Boeing's was the lowest since the first quarter of 2002, according to Reuters estimates. (graphic: link.reuters.com/syb54w)
“Looking at the numbers there might be a pre-neo dip taking pace but it is too early to tell,” said aerospace industry analyst Richard Aboulafia at Virginia-based Teal Group.
Boeing shares outperformed Wall St with a 1.3 percent gain in early Tuesday trading. Airbus Group fell 0.1 percent.
Boeing last week posted 184 first-quarter deliveries, up from 161 a year earlier due partly to a sharp jump for its 787 Dreamliner. Airbus is in the early stages of ramping up output of its competing A350.
Deliveries at both planemakers traditionally accelerate during the year, peaking in the fourth quarter.
Boeing has been ahead in deliveries on an annual basis for three years after a lengthy winning streak for Airbus.
In the first quarter, the bulk of Airbus’s new orders arrived in March when Air Lease Corp (AL.N) finalised a deal for 55 aircraft including 25 revamped A330 wide-body models.
Airbus won the annual order race last year with 1,456 net orders, squeezing ahead of Boeing’s total of 1,432. But both planemakers have set targets suggesting a slowdown this year.
Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Laurence Frost/Mark Heinrich