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Airbus deliveries rose 8 percent, orders outpaced Boeing in 2016

posted an eight percent rise in deliveries last year, beating its own forecasts by a comfortable margin to set a company record, and pulled off a last-minute surge in orders to beat its arch-rival in the race for new orders.

Confirming an estimate published by Reuters, the European planemaker said on Wednesday it had delivered 688 aircraft in 2016, compared with an official company forecast of more than 650 and a goal set by its finance director of more than 670.

Airbus exhibition stand showing Airliner fleet of A350, A380, A320 and A330 at the Farnborough Air Show, England.
Richard Baker | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Deliveries rebounded at the year-end after problems in the supply chain, but Airbus planemaking president Fabrice Bregier told a news conference he was not expecting another record end to the year in 2017 as production levels smooth out.

Airbus remained behind the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, in deliveries but scored another win in the race for new business after posting 731 net orders for 2016.

Boeing delivered 748 aircraft and took 668 net orders last year.

The surge in Airbus orders included 98 aircraft sold to Iran, the first of which was due to be delivered later on Wednesday.

It also included over 100 orders to unidentified customers, which industry sources have linked to Saudi carrier Flynas and the leasing arm of China's Bank of Communications.

But a December sales flurry by both Airbus and Boeing failed to prevent the combined book-to-bill ratio of the two giants dipping below 1 for the first time since 2009, placing a dent in record industry order backlogs amid concerns over the economy.