Airbus reported record annual jet orders and confirmed an 11-percent rise in 2023 deliveries on Thursday, maintaining the top manufacturing spot against rival Boeing for a fifth year.
As airlines scrambled to renew fleets last year, Airbus said it had won 2,319 gross orders and 2,094 net orders after cancellations. Confirming a Reuters report, it said it delivered 735 airplanes, leaving its order backlog at 8,598.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the plane maker, which analysts say made a slow start to the year as it wrestled with tight supply chains, had seen "increased flexibility and capability" in its industrial system.
He added that he was confident Airbus would meet a delivery target of 75 A320 jets a month in 2026, with ten assembly lines active for the A320 family.
"The situation in the supply chain is still tense. It's improving, it's getting better, but we are also flying higher as we continue to ramp up in 2024," Faury told a news conference.
Boeing, which is still recovering from a safety grounding of its 737 MAX followed by a spate of production problems, said this week it had delivered 528 aircraft in 2023 and booked 1,314 net new orders after allowing for cancellations.
Christian Scherer, who in January stepped up from the top sales job to become CEO of commercial aircraft, the core plane making business at Airbus, said aviation had recovered faster than expected from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demand for wide-body jets was rebounding particularly sharply, he said, adding in a statement: "Travel is back and there is serious momentum."
He added that making up for the backlog quickly was a priority for the European planemaker.
"The responsibility is to live up to this commitment to deliver a backlog of 8,600 aircraft on time, on quality," he told a press conference.
Boeing is under fresh scrutiny over production following a cabin blowout that prompted a partial new grounding of one type of 737 MAX. Analysts said this is also happening against a backdrop of lingering supply tensions across the industry.