Airbus closes in on sales record

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Airbus needs just 112 jet orders in the last two months of 2011 to beat its sales record.

The European jet maker reported Tuesday that it had added another 193 orders to its backlog in October, bringing its net order tally through the first 10 months of the year to 1,231.

That puts Airbus on track to beat its 2007 sales record of 1,341 net orders — especially given the prospect for new orders at the Dubai Air Show, which starts Sunday.

Airbus leads its rival, the Boeing Co., which posted 428 net orders through the first 10 months of the year. Both companies have recorded more than 100 aircraft order cancellations with Airbus logging 141 cancellations and Boeing recording 110.

Leading Airbus’ orders charge in October was the jet maker’s A320 New Engine Option jet, or A320neo. The company said it has firm orders for 1,000 of the updated single-aisle aircraft, which was launched last December.

Last week, Boeing said it has 600 tentative orders for the 737 MAX, the Chicago-based jet maker’s answer to the A320neo. Boeing hasn’t finalized those orders, which could boost its 2011 order tally over the 1,000 order mark.

Airbus also leads Boeing in deliveries so far in 2011 with 418 jets handed over to customers. Boeing has delivered 387 aircraft through the end of October.

Deliveries of single-aisle aircraft also led the way for both Airbus and Boeing. Airbus has delivered 332 of its A320 jets through the end of October, compared to the delivery of 305 Boeing 737s.

Boeing has delivered 82 widebody jets, including two 787s, during the first 10 months of 2011. Airbus delivered 86 widebody aircraft.

Both jet makers are increasing aircraft production to keep up with demand as many airlines are looking to retire older, less fuel-efficient planes.