Airbus Closes In on 2013 Order Goal on Contracts for A320

Airbus SAS is closing in on its 2013 order target four months into the year after already winning more than 600 orders from airlines snapping up the fuel-efficient A320 single-aisle bestseller.

The planemaker has targeted 700 gross orders for the year, a goal that’s come within reach after the company listed 431 gross contracts through March. Combined with commitments for 102 planes from Deutsche Lufthansa AG and 82 from Turkish Airlines, new business won so far this year comes to 615 units.

After opening 2013 with a prediction for as many as 650 orders, Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy has raised the goal by a further 50 planes. The planemaker is most likely to exceed even that target, given the Paris Air show, a one-week event in June that typically coincides with large-scale orders.

“The figures show just how solid the cycle for new aircraft demand is,” said Yan Derocles, an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris. “Even if some airlines are having difficulties, it’s clear that Airbus will easily manage to find buyers for planes.”

Among customers Airbus is pursuing is EasyJet Plc, which is negotiating to add single-aisle planes for fleet expansion plans beyond 2017. EasyJet’s last major purchase was a decade ago, for 120 Airbus single-aisle planes valued at $6 billion.

In the first three months, the planemaker, a unit of Toulouse, France-based European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., delivered 144 planes, including 114 single-aisle aircraft, 26 A330 wide-bodies, and four A380 superjumbos, it said today.

Airbus’s order backlog is at record 4,948 airliners, or more than seven years of production, as the aircraft maker has pushed output to new levels with the build rate for A330 widebodies now at an all-time high of 10 a month.

Boeing Co., its sole rival in the global market for large commercial airliners, won 191 net orders through March 26 after two cancellations. It delivered 82 planes through February.