Airbus Beaten by Boeing as Orders Plunge

The Airbus Tianjin factory in Tianjin, northern China.
Federic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
The Airbus Tianjin factory in Tianjin, northern China.

Europe's Airbus posted a 43 percent drop in orders and surrendered its crown as the world's largest planemaker to Boeing last year, but predicted improvements in both orders and deliveries for 2013 as airlines seek to reduce fuel costs.

It also said it remained confident of achieving the maiden flight of its A350 carbon-composite airliner by mid-year. U.S. rival Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner was grounded by U.S. authorities overnight, citing a potential battery fire risk.

Airbus said it had booked 914 orders during 2012 in a year when Boeing caught up with demand for revamped medium-haul jets, selling exactly the same volume for one model alone.

(Read More: Airbus Won 2011 but Boeing Wins 2012: Analyst)

Airbus had won the previous year's order race by a record margin and had been expected to draw a response as the planemakers waged a two-year contest to win orders by offering airlines significant fuel savings over earlier models.

Adjusted for cancellations, Airbus had 833 net orders.

Gross orders stood well ahead of the company's 2012 target of 650 jets but compared with Boeing's comparable figure of 1,339 new aircraft, giving Airbus a market share of 41 percent.

Boeing led on net orders with 921 aircraft.

Airbus also backed the use of lithium-ion batteries on its future A350 passenger jet on Thursday, saying its next aircraft was designed differently from the Dreamliner.