Boeing tops Airbus for first time in 6 years

Strong market helps both companies, but sales of 747, Airbus' stumbles aid Boeing.

By Chris Zappone, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Boeing Co. is set to outsell European rival airplane maker Airbus for the first time since 2000.

According to information on the companies' Web sites, Boeing (down $0.01 to $88.75, Charts) has booked orders for 904 planes in 2006, while Airbus' total hovers around 700, taking into account orders yet to be announced.

Boeing 777

Airbus has struggled with difficulties bringing the A380 "superjumbo" to market in 2006, according to Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co.

Rubel notes, however, that it's been a strong year in terms of orders for both companies.

Sales of Boeing's 777 Freighter have helped the company, Rubel said.

"The Boeing 777 really fits the market and has massively outsold Airbus in that category," Rubel said.

Moreover, the Boeing 747 has had a revival "the likes of which we haven't seen in years."

The 747's surge in sales has been driven by the need to replace aging models in airlines' fleets, a boost in the freight market - particularly in the Pacific region - and by the fact it fills a market niche between the 777 and A380, according to Rubel.

The last time Boeing outsold Airbus was in 2000, when Boeing sold 618 planes versus 521 by Airbus, Rubel said.

Boeing also makes military aircraft, which makes it a competitor of Lockheed Martin (up $0.40 to $92.10, Charts) and Northrop Grumman (up $0.36 to $68.02, Charts).


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