Boeing is poised to lose its nearly decade-long distinction as the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer to rival Airbus, and the gap between the two could get even greater as the fallout from the grounding of the Max fleet is poised to continue into 2020.
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The competition between the two companies is fierce and expected to become more intense as increasing demand for air travel boosts the need for new planes.
But while Boeing has edged slightly above Airbus in deliveries over the bulk of the past ten years, the Netherlands-based firm is trending higher than Boeing for the first six months of 2019.
So far, Airbus has shipped 389 planes to Boeing’s 239. And with the Max jet still out of service, it’s likely that Airbus tops the Chicago-based manufacturer in deliveries for 2019.
Analysts and others tend to use deliveries instead of orders when determining the size of the firms, given the companies receive the bulk of the payment for new jets when they are shipped.
The lead by Airbus, which amounts to 150 more planes delivered through June, is a wider gap than in prior years. In 2018, for example, Boeing shipped 806 jets to Airbus' 800.
After the Max fleet was grounded following two deadly crashes, Boeing cut production to 42 jets per month and another reduction is possible, industry experts say. While the firm has not delivered any new Max planes since March, it notched a key commitment from British Airways-parent company International Airlines Group for 200 jets.
Airbus has seized on the scandal, introducing a new long-range, single-aisle jetliner meant to challenge a similar model still under consideration by Boeing.
The company has also nabbed some business from Boeing, including a deal with Saudi Arabia’s flyadeal for 50 Airbus A320neo narrow-body jet. The budget carrier had previously committed to purchasing 50 Max jets.
Meanwhile, Airbus continues to earn new orders, including 44 orders for the new A321XLR in June and 130 orders for the A320neo, the direct competitor to the Max.