Airbus beats Boeing at show

An Airbus A350 XWB departs to perform in a flying display on day four of the Farnborough International Airshow in England.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
An Airbus A350 XWB departs to perform in a flying display on day four of the Farnborough International Airshow in England.

FARNBOROUGH, England — Airbus beat rival Boeing in the aircraft order stakes at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow, garnering nearly twice as many orders and commitments.

The victory by the European aircraft manufacturer is its second in a row in the unofficial airshow competition after last year’s triumph in Paris. The French capital and Farnborough, a town in southern England, alternate the location of the airshow.

For years, the show has served as a platform for a sales race between the world’s two major aircraft makers, who are having to cater to customers increasingly interested in new-generation, energy-efficient planes to offset huge increases in the price of jet fuel.


Though Airbus clinched more deals at Farnborough, Boeing insisted it has won more in the year to date. It put its figure at 783 against Airbus’s 645.

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Airbus said Thursday that its orders and commitments at Farnborough for 496 aircraft were valued at $75 billion. Demand for its A320neo, or ‘‘new engine option,’’ was particularly strong. Boeing, meanwhile, secured business worth $40.2 billion for 201 airplanes.

‘‘The orders and commitments we’ve received at this record-breaking Farnborough for both the A330neo and A320neo families are together an unequivocally resounding endorsement for these most cost-efficient aircraft,’’ said John Leahy, Airbus’s chief operating officer.

Airbus’s orders included the largely updated versions of its A330 widebody aircraft, which were launched this week. Airbus says the plane is more fuel- efficient and has a longer range to help it compete against Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Edward Hunt, a senior consultant with IHS, attributed Airbus’s win in part to the fact the Airbus plane was sort of an old standby. The A330 has sold well and is widely in use, making it simple to service and avoiding the necessity to train pilots on a new aircraft.


But he said both manufacturers had similar offerings and that what airlines were looking for were good deals.

Each company tends to inflate its sales figures and save up previously announced agreements to make a big splash at the show. Customers regularly negotiate enormous discounts, but the details on such sales are usually secret.

‘‘Airbus has definitely caught up,’’ Hunt said. ‘‘If I were Boeing, I would be a little bit worried.’’ But Hunt said the race for top numbers obscures the fact that aircraft are bought all year long.

‘‘If we’re underestimating anything it is the growth of the industry,’’ said aviation analyst Howard Wheeldon. ‘‘There are new players.’’ Though single-aisle planes sold the best, the larger ones did well, too.

Wheeldon noted air travel is accessible and possible in many regions where even a few years ago easy, cheap air travel was unthinkable. One of Airbus’ biggest customers was Air Asia X, which bought 50 A330-900 neos worth about $13.8 billion.


Boeing last week forecast that the Asia-Pacific region would drive demand for aircraft over the next 20 years, with single-aisle planes dominating the market.