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Airbus Posts Record 2007 Orders but Trails Boeing

Reuters
Wednesday, 16 Jan 2008 | 7:01 AM ET

Airbus confirmed 2007 as a record year for planemakers on Wednesday by posting orders for 1,341 aircraft while boosting cost savings aimed at catching archrival Boeing.

Boeing took top spot with 1,413 orders and has suffered less from a weakened dollar than Airbus, which sources far more components in euros and has launched its Power8 cost-savings drive in response.

"These are enormous numbers; it was a staggering year. Now it becomes a question of how we manage the backlog," Airbus chief Tom Enders told journalists.

"Power8 delivered cost savings very considerably ahead of schedule in 2007. The official version is more than 300 million euros; I can tell you it is close to 500 million euros," he said.

The planemaker aims to cut jobs and sell plants to lower its costs.

Shares in Airbus parent EADS were down 1.7 percent at 18.28 euros in Paris, paring earlier losses.

The Airbus orders were valued at $157.1 billion at catalogue prices, though these are often subject to discounts.

The Toulouse-headquartered company's backlog stood at 3,421 planes or six years of production.

Airbus said its 2007 deliveries reached a record 453 aircraft, topping its forecast of 440 to 450 planes.

2008 Orders Drop

For 2008, Enders predicted a drop in orders but deliveries above 470 aircraft, including a target of 13 A380 superjumbos.

"We will put every effort into reaching our target for (13 A380) deliveries in 2008," he said.

The delivery race is set to be a close contest this year as Boeing delays first deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner and Airbus pulls out all the stops to prevent a repeat of production problems which have delayed the A380.

In 2007, Airbus had 117 order cancellations as cargo carriers walked away from a freight version of the A380 and airlines began switching to a redesigned version of its next model, the A350 XWB, trading up from an earlier proposed version.

Airbus received 290 orders in 2007 for the A350 XWB, a challenger to Boeing's 787. That brought total orders for the mid-sized twinjet to 292 aircraft.

Its overall order tally did not include 160 aircraft provisionally sold to China during a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy last October, a deal which has yet to be finalized.

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