Boeing aims to surpass Airbus this year

Boeing aims to speed production this year and says it expects to replace Airbus as the top maker of commercial planes.

January 25, 2012

By Ashley Gross

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(AP/John Froschauer)
Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, which was delivered last fall

Chicago-based Boeing aims to reclaim its crown as the world’s top commercial airplane maker this year. In its epic race against European rival Airbus, Boeing has come up short since 2003, according to Bloomberg News.

But this year, Boeing says it will deliver as many as 600 commercial planes, topping Airbus, with its forecast for 570 planes.

For that to happen, Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Yair Reiner says, Boeing needs to get better and quicker at producing its new 787 Dreamliner, the fuel-efficient, lightweight plane that was first delivered last fall after years of delays. The planemaker says it will deliver about 35 to 42 Dreamliners this year, up from three last year.

"Can they get the 787 production cleaned up, both in terms of getting these planes out the door and doing so in an increasingly profitable way?" Reiner said.

Boeing aims to boost production of its Dreamliner to 10 per month by the end of next year. Right now it produces 2 and a half per month.

Boeing says profit this year will drop as much as 24 percent from last year as it copes with higher pension expenses. Spokesman Chaz Bickers said the increased pension expense stems from lower interest rates, which force the company to increase contributions to the pension fund.

But the aerospace giant has a record backlog of planes to make. It has orders for more than 3,700 commercial airplanes – more than seven years’ worth at the current rate. Last year, Airbus delivered 534 commercial planes compared with 477 from Boeing.

Boeing said 2011 profit rose 21 percent to $4.0 billion from $3.3 billion in 2010. Revenue climbed 7 percent to $68.7 billion, even as military and defense revenue slowed.

 

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