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Boeing jet orders surge; on track to be top planemaker

A worker prepares the Boeing chalet ahead of the Farnborough Airshow 2012 in southern England July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
A worker prepares the Boeing chalet ahead of the Farnborough Airshow 2012 in southern England July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

(Reuters) - Boeing Co appeared to recapture bragging rights as the world's largest planemaker for the first time in a decade, after saying it delivered 601 jets in 2012, well ahead of a target set by rival Airbus .

Chicago-based Boeing's tally of 601 planes delivered to customers puts it ahead of Airbus' stated goal of 580 deliveries for the year.

Airbus' final figures won't be announced until January 17, but a Reuters analysis suggests its deliveries won't surpass Boeing's.

"The production system performed really, really well," and helped drive deliveries up sharply from 477 in 2011, said Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing at Boeing's commercial airplane division.

Boeing also beat its rival in sales, booking net orders for 1,203 aircraft in 2012, compared with about 900 for Airbus, based on the Reuters analysis.

Boeing's near-record sales, thanks largely to the success of its new 737 MAX, are topped only by its sales of 1,413 planes in 2007.

Boeing booked 1,124 net orders for 737s, more than any other model in a single year, many of them for the MAX, which is scheduled to enter service in 2016.

But Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, won the most new orders over the last two years, a period when both companies introduced new versions of their top-selling single-aisle planes, the A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX.

Airbus' two-year gross sales are expected to total 2,580 planes. That tops Boeing's count of 2,260 for the two years.

Boeing officials downplayed Airbus' two-year win, noting it had done better in sales of larger, wide-body jets, which carry much higher price tags.

Boeing logged 155 gross orders for wide-body jets, which include the 767, 777, 787 and 747 jumbo. That compares with 103 for Airbus models through November, including the A330, A340, A350 and A380 superjumbo.

"All of a sudden, Airbus is talking about a two-year period," Tinseth said. "They like to talk about their success in 2011, we had a great year in 2012 and we've been doing really well on the wide-body side."

Boeing's newest jet, the 787, lost more orders than it received. New orders for the carbon-composite plane totaled 50 compared with 62 cancellations.

Still, overall, Boeing has 799 unfilled orders for 787s and is stepping up production to 10 a month this year.

Boeing is aiming to produce nearly 660 jets in 2013, easily topping the 601 jets it delivered in 2012.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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