Airbus Delivered Record 718 Planes in 2017, Beating Expectations

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Airbus SE (AIR.FR) delivered a record number of planes in 2017 and booked more new jetliner orders than expected, marking a positive end to a year marred by personnel turmoil, allegations of wrongdoing, and supplier problems.

The company on Monday said that it produced 718 planes last year, meeting its target of more than 700, after building 688 in 2016.

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It still trailed Boeing Co. (BA), however, which retained the title as largest plane maker after delivering an industry-record 763 aircraft in 2017.

Airbus topped Boeing in new deals won, though. It booked 1,109 net orders compared with 912 for Boeing after the Toulouse, France-based company won 776 net orders in December. The total for last year far surpassed its own expectations. Executives had begun 2017 projecting that after several years of strong bookings, new orders would fall short of deliveries.

Airbus instead ended the year with an industry-record backlog of 7,265 planes to be built, with production set to stretch well into the next decade.

The deliveries and strong backlog come during an important transition period for Airbus.

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus chief operating officer and president of the commercial plane business, is departing. The company's long-serving sales chief, John Leahy, is also leaving. Airbus has said that Chief Executive Tom Enders will depart next year.

The departures come amid restructuring at the company that has raised tensions among different camps and against a backdrop of persistent allegations of wrongdoing. Last year, the U.S. began looking into Airbus potentially violating arms export rules, while Kuwait launched a probe into possible corruption related to multi-billion-dollar helicopter deals. Investigations in other jurisdictions, including France, Germany and the U.K., also continue. The company has said it is cooperating with the various probes. Airbus on Saturday said it was working to resolve the German probe.

Throughout 2017, Airbus struggled with supplier problems that slowed deliveries and raised questions over whether the company could meet targets. It delivered a record 127 planes in December to make it across the finishing line.

Even though Airbus met its delivery target, it fell slightly short of an internal goal of building 720 planes.

First delivery of two new planes, the A330neo widebody and A350-1000 long-range jet, also slipped into 2018. Airbus is expected to hike output again this year.

Write to Robert Wall at robert.wall@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 15, 2018 02:52 ET (07:52 GMT)

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