China sales lift Airbus over Boeing

2023-01-12 14:07:15China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Boeing reported a big jump in airplane orders for 2022, but lags Airbus for the fourth consecutive year, mainly due to a soured US-China relationship that has led Chinese airlines to abandon Boeing and turn to Airbus.

Boeing delivered 479 planes, while Airbus delivered 661 planes in 2022. Boeing netted orders of 774 planes, and Airbus finished ahead with 820 net orders.

In total, the multinational European aircraft maker Airbus led Boeing by 226 planes. In 2021, Boeing delivered 340 planes and gained 479 net orders.

Airbus' win over Chicago-based Boeing was largely due to orders from China. In July 2022, Chinese carriers ordered 292 Airbus single-aisle jets, including 196 of the largest-model A321neos; 82 of the A320neos; and 14 of the smallest-model A319neos.

For example, Xiamen Airlines, previously an all-Boeing carrier, defected to Airbus in 2022 and ordered 40 jets from the A320neo family.

For some years, Chinese carriers were purchasing about one-third of all the single-aisle 737s Boeing built in Renton, Washington. However, Chinese airlines haven't ordered any Boeing planes in the last few years primarily due to the deteriorating bilateral relationship and geopolitical tension between US and China.

Also, unlike most of the rest of the world, China hasn't cleared Boeing's 737 MAX to fly again since it was grounded in March 2019 due to two plane crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing said that it will remarket some of the more than 130 737 MAX jets originally designated for Chinese airlines.

David Calhoun, president and CEO at Boeing, said last October that Boeing still would like to deliver airplanes to China. But he said it is really hard for him to find signals that things are going to "move in our direction".

Both Boeing and Airbus acknowledged that they have large backlogs on their orders due to the impact of the COVID-19, pandemic ranging from supply chain disruptions to labor shortages. Boeing's official backlog stands at 4,578 planes, and the Airbus order backlog is 7,239.

Meanwhile, China is also on the verge of becoming a competitor to Boeing and Airbus. Early this year, it is expected to commercially fly its own and first domestically made, narrow-body jet C919.

Manufactured by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), the C919 functions as a rival to the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX. It had received certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China last September. The first plane was delivered to its first customer China Eastern Airlines last December.

China Eastern Airlines' C919s will seat 164 passengers in a two-cabin configuration, with eight in business class and 156 in economy. Its maximum range is about 3,450 miles. The airline has trained its first batch of personnel, including nine pilots, 24 cabin crew, and 13 maintenance staff.

Eastern ordered five C919s and expects the delivery to be completed in two years.

Currently, Eastern is conducting a 100-hour flight validation campaign on nine domestic routes from its base at Shanghai to Beijing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Haikou, Qingdao, Wuhan, Nanchang and Jinan. The simulation flight is expected to conclude in mid-February.

The C919 is priced at $99 million, compared with the Airbus A320neo, which costs $124 million.


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