Boeing and Airbus Dominate Global Market
With Boeing and Airbus dominating a global market valued at US$100 billion annually, the two aircraft manufacturers continue to vie for first place in this lucrative business sector. First quarter results for 2012 reveal that Boeing appears to be on course to recapture the top spot, as it delivered 137 commercial airplanes, compared to the 131 delivered by Airbus. Airbus has held the coveted number one spot since 2012, and with both manufacturers intent on increasing production of their best-sellers – the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 – they will be competing in emerging markets where medium-haul airplanes are becoming more in demand.
Boeing’s position was aided by the launch of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the enhanced version of its Boeing 747 – both of which had encountered major production delays. Among the airplanes delivered by Boeing were six Boeing 747-8s and five of the innovative carbon-composite Dreamliners. European manufacturer Airbus delivered four of its A380 superjumbos and has recently begun assembling its competitor to the Boeing 787 – the A350 – in its factory in Toulouse. It is anticipated that the A350 will enter service in mid-2014.
While airlines snapped up the fuel efficient model of the A320 in 2011, Boeing is reportedly ahead of Airbus in new orders for 2012. Furthermore, Airbus may lose some of its orders placed by China if the current conflict over emissions between the European Union and a group of countries including China is not resolved.
Just this week London Heathrow became the 200th airport welcome the Boeing 747-8, after having determined that the new airliner meets requirements for operating safely within an airport environment. Currently the Boeing 747-8 is the only airplane with a capacity of more than 400 seats approved by over sixty airports worldwide.
While cost-cutting may be a priority for commercial air travel, the world’s super-rich are offering Boeing and Airbus a new source of revenue. In early March this year a bespoke Boeing 747-8, dubbed the 747-VIP, took off from Paine Field near Seattle for delivery to an unnamed customer in the Middle East. Airbus is reportedly working on an A380 for the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, with the original plans making provision for transporting two Rolls-Royces, horses and camels, and a rotating prayer room which will always point toward Mecca. Business people in emerging and fast-growing economies such as China and Russia are also entering the market for larger long-range planes providing direct service to their destinations.