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Europe

EADS creates 9,000 jobs as Airbus celebrates record-breaking year

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-17

European plane maker Airbus said Tuesday it had a record-breaking year in 2011, outselling Boeing for the ninth consecutive year. Outgoing chief of parent company EADS announced the creation of 9,000 new jobs in 2012.

AFP - European plane maker Airbus said Tuesday that it outgunned American rival Boeing in 2011, winning a two-thirds market share with a record number of aircraft orders and saw clear skies ahead.

Airbus delivered a record 534 planes, beating Boeing for the ninth consecutive year, said the firm's commercial director John Leahy.

In 2011, it won a record 1,419 orders while the company's great rival Boeing won 805 new orders, giving Airbus 64 percent of the market, Leahy said.

Airbus received new orders for 19 A380 superjumbos last year after 10 cancellations, and 26 were delivered compared with 18 in 2010, Tom Enders, the chief executive of Airbus parent company EADS, told reporters.

"A380 is in serious production. For us after all the troubles, 2011 was the first real serious production year for the A380," he said.

Leahy said the firm was unlikely to maintain its level of dominance.

"It isn't our goal to end up where Boeing was in 1995 with 81 percent of the market. Our goal remains to stay in a stable duopoly between 40 and 60 percent of the market," he told reporters.

Leahy said market share would likely return to the 50-percent mark in 2012, as Boeing readies its new fuel-efficient 737 MAX for delivery in 2017.

Airbus had a total of 4,437 orders on its books at the end of December -- an industry record -- worth some $588 billion (464 billion euros).

The company would work through its order book foreseeing 600 to 650 new orders this year, Enders said adding deliveries were expected to increase to 570 in 2012.

Leahy said the firm had enjoyed particular success with the A320 NEO medium-haul plane, which the firm says will burn 15 percent less fuel than the standard A320 -- a crucial factor for airlines at a time of high oil prices.

Airbus won 1,226 orders last year for the new plane, which will be delivered from 2015, and 1,256 orders in total since the programme took off in December 2010.

"No programme in the history of aviation has ever sold that many, that fast," said Leahy.

The value of Airbus 2011 orders amounted to $140.5 billion, or 54 percent of the global market. Airbus has higher production costs than Boeing and has splashed out more in research and development, notably for the NEO.

Meanwhile, the timetable for Airbus' A350 long haul passenger jet is on schedule, senior director Fabrice Bregier said, insisting there was no need to rush.

"We don't relax the pressure on the team... but when we believe we are not mature enough, when we believe there are still risks which could have effects on the next step -- we have the A380 experience we have paid the consequences for -- we prefer to stop and fix (it)," he said.

In November, EADS announced that production and delivery of its first A350 long-haul passenger jet had been delayed by six months and would now be in the first half of 2014.

Looking forward, Leahy said he thought Airbus could navigate smoothly through the turbulence the global airline industry is facing.

Demand for planes will continue to grow given that passenger numbers tend to double on average every 15 years, he said.

"It was a tough year for the world economy but traffic has grown by six percent," he said.

Meanwhile, Tom Enders also saw a bright future for the firm. "With a solid backlog and an excellent cash position, we are well prepared for the future," he said.

EADS chief Louis Gallois also called for the swift appointment of his successor amid German press reports citing senior EADS officials that Paris was delaying confirmation of Enders in the job in a bid to see a Frenchman, rather than Germans, at the group's financial helm and at the head of its Eurocopter subsidiary.

But Gallois said he would not push for a date or try to exert pressure over the decision.

EADS also plans to hire 9,000 people in 2012, of which 4,000 would be on temporary contracts, Gallois told reporters. That compares with more than 5,000 last year.

Date created : 2012-01-17

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