By Joanna Plucinska and Dagmarah Mackos
(Reuters) -Airbus reported record annual jet orders and confirmed an 11% rise in 2023 deliveries on Thursday, maintaining the top manufacturing spot against rival Boeing for a fifth year.
As airlines scramble to renew fleets, Airbus said it had won 2,319 gross orders and 2,094 net orders after cancellations. Confirming a Reuters report, it said it delivered 735 airplanes, leaving its order backlog at 8,598.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the planemaker, which made a slow start to the year as it wrestled with tight supply chains, had seen “increased flexibility and capability” in its industrial system.
He added that he was confident Airbus would meet a target of 75 A320neo family jets being assembled a month in 2026.
While orders have soared past pre-pandemic levels amid brisk travel demand, Faury said he did not think that Airbus would recapture its record 2019 delivery levels of some 870 planes as early as this year. It will give 2024 targets in February.
“The situation in the supply chain is still tense. It’s improving, it’s getting better, but we are also flying higher as we continue to ramp up in 2024,” Faury told a news conference.
Christian Scherer, who in January stepped up from the top sales job to become CEO of the core commercial aircraft business, said aviation had recovered faster than expected from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in large widebodies.
“The responsibility is to live up to this commitment to deliver a backlog of 8,600 aircraft on time, on quality,” he said.
Airbus is sold out until the end of the decade for single-aisle jets and 2028 for widebodies, Scherer said.
He reaffirmed that the A321XLR, the company’s latest and longest-range single-aisle jet, would see its first delivery in the second quarter.
Boeing, which is still recovering from a safety grounding of its 737 MAX followed by a spate of production problems and a fresh partial grounding of the 737 MAX 9, said on Tuesday it had delivered 528 aircraft in 2023.
It booked 1,314 net new orders after allowing for cancellations.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Dagmarah Mackos, Tim Hepher, Shivansh Tiwary; Editing by David Gregorio, Alexander Smith and Jamie Freed)