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Airbus Sees Surprise Win in Jet Deliveries Over Boeing

Airbus SAS said it may surpass Boeing Co., its only rival, in jetliner deliveries for the 10th straight year even though the U.S. planemaker is ahead through the third quarter and has a higher full-year forecast.

“Regarding deliveries, I think we are still ahead of Boeing,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said in an interview yesterday with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock” in New York.

In the year through Sept. 30, Chicago-based Boeing had handed over 436 aircraft to customers, compared with 405 by Toulouse, France-based Airbus. Boeing has been forecasting 585 to 600 deliveries for the full year, against the target Airbus has given for 570. Airbus, the civil aircraft unit of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., overtook Boeing in 2003 and has held the top spot for annual deliveries since then.

“We might just beat Boeing” for 2012 deliveries, Mary Anne Greczyn, a spokeswoman for Airbus in Washington, said in an e-mail. “We’re looking good so far.”

A spokesman for Boeing wasn’t immediately available for comment after business hours yesterday.

Both planemakers, whose duopoly is set to be challenged by new competitors in Canada and China, are building jets at record rates and boosting production even higher to meet demand for more fuel-efficient aircraft. Deliveries are key as that’s when airlines make the final payments, which are usually a large chunk of the purchase price.

Order Forecasts

While Boeing had about a 2-to-1 lead in orders through the third quarter, Airbus expects to be ahead in the two years through 2012, Bregier said. That period encompasses when both companies began offering a revamped version of their single-aisle jets, the most widely flown planes.

Airbus expects to have sold about 2,000 planes in 2011 and 2012 combined, Bregier said. The company began offering its single-aisle A320neo in December 2010. It won total orders for 1,419 of all its planes last year and had sold 437 through September this year, stripping out cancellations.

Boeing, which doesn’t give order forecasts, began offering its 737 Max late last year. It had net orders for 805 jets in 2011 and for 879 through Oct. 2 this year.

“We will still lead this market,” Bregier said.

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