Boeing has had a bad year, you might have heard. Well, bad couple of years, really, as it tries to sort out the mess that is the 737 MAX. It is largely thanks to that mess that for the second straight year Airbus will out-deliver Boeing.
The two plane makers have been locked in a heated rivalry for decades as the only two companies that manufacture big jet airliners (for now). They each typically deliver 600 to 800 airplanes a year, but because of the pandemic those numbers are down. And because of the 737 MAX specifically, those numbers are way down for Boeing.
Which means that Airbus will deliver more planes this year than Boeing, as it did in 2019, when Airbus took the title and ended a seven-year run for Boeing at the top.
Barring widespread new travel upheaval, industry sources expect Airbus to deliver 550-560 planes in 2020 after it reached more than 520 this week, with nine days of the year still to go.
But they cautioned deliveries are subject to an unusual number of variables and schedules are not set in stone. Airbus is unlikely to repeat a record surge of more than 100 deliveries in December last year.
An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on specifics, but said Airbus continued to operate normally.
Total Airbus deliveries are expected to fall 35% this year due to the impact on airlines of the pandemic, but Airbus has an insurmountable lead over Boeing, which delivered 118 planes up to the end of November, with the 737 MAX grounded during that period.
You can expect this rivalry to continue for a long while, as Boeing slowly but surely recovers from the 737 MAX disaster and sees that its only competition in the big jet airliner space is still just Airbus. That’s the situation until China’s C919 gets fully up and running, with deliveries expected some time next year or in 2022, at which point things might get really interesting.