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Airbus tops Boeing in plane orders

Both companies, though, saw a rebound in demand and were able to hire more employees.

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By Michelle Dunlop
Herald Writer
Published:
Increased demand for commercial jets pushed the Boeing Co. and Airbus to add thousands of workers in 2010.
Together, the two jet makers brought in 691 more aircraft orders last year than in 2009. Airbus grabbed the larger share with 574 net orders, compared to Boeing's 530, the European company reported Monday. That's up from 271 and 142 net orders for Airbus and Boeing respectively in 2009.
“2010 was a good year, in fact better than expected 12 months ago,” said Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, in a statement on the company's 2010 results. “The market rebound and improved program performance has been particularly encouraging.”
Airbus had trailed Boeing in orders through most of 2010. But the Toulouse, France-based company completed several deals in December, including its 10,000th jet order. That order was part of a 60-plane agreement with Virgin America, which gave Airbus its first firm order for its A320 new engine option aircraft. Last week, India's IndiGo said it placed a tentative order for 150 of the new A320s.
Because of its new orders, Airbus will hire 3,000 workers in 2011, Enders said. Late last year, Boeing's chief executive, Jim McNerney, said his company will hire between 4,000 and 5,000 employees this year.
Boeing added 3,464 employees company wide last year, and Airbus added 2,200 workers at a time when other industries saw their payrolls shrink. Here in Washington state, Boeing increased its payroll by 1,265 people to 73,617 last year, according to the company's Web site.
In 2009, Boeing had said it would cut its payroll by as many as 10,000 jobs. As late as February 2010, Boeing had handed out 60-day layoff notices to 500 workers here in the Puget Sound region. But the jet maker began to steadily add machinists, at an average pace of 100 workers or more weekly, in October. The company already has hired about 300 machinists in the first two weeks of 2011.
Both Airbus and Boeing have plans to increase production to keep up with airlines' demands. In 2010, Airbus delivered 510 aircraft — its highest number ever. Enders vowed to beat the company's own record in 2011.
“This is the result of strong airline demand for new and more eco-efficient aircraft,” Enders said. “We respond to our customer's requests by introducing the right technologies at the right time as per the launch of the A320 (new engine option).”
In 2009, Boeing made plans to scale back jet production and therefore delivered 462 aircraft in 2010. The company will give its 2011 delivery estimate during its earnings report Jan. 26.
Requests for single-aisle aircraft, like Boeing's 737 and Airbus' A320, continued to outpace demand for all other jets. Despite Airbus' launch of its updated A320 late in 2010, the company lagged behind Boeing in single-aisle orders with 416 requests for A320s compared to 486 orders for Boeing 737s.
Delays in Boeing's 787 and 747 programs kept its orders for widebody aircraft low. Both those two jets ended the year with more cancellations than orders while Boeing had three orders for its 767 and 46 for its 777. Airbus landed 32 orders for its A380 superjumbo jet and 63 each for its new A350 XWB and A330 family jets.
Michelle Dunlop: mdunlop@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3454.

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