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Airbus On Track To Become World’s Top Plane Manufacturer As Boeing’s Orders Slump on Max Grounding

Airbus SE booked a slew of jetliner deals from last month’s Paris Air Show, dragging the company out of one of the thinnest sales periods in its recent history.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus signed contracts for 145 planes in June, taking the first-half total into positive territory at 88, as cancellations had previously outweighed new sales. The results outpaced arch-rival Boeing Co., which logged only nine orders and is down 119 for the year, held back by the grounding of its best-selling 737 Max jet.

Airbus’s Paris total was boosted by the launch of an extra-long-range variant of its A321 narrow-body jet, which accumulated 44 firm orders, excluding conversions from other models. At the same time, the idling of the Max after two fatal crashes in five months has turned a drought at Chicago-based Boeing into a crisis.

Airbus’s June bookings included 30 A320neo-family jets from an order made by Saudi Arabian Airlines. The planes are destined for Saudia’s discount subsidiary, Flyadeal, which walked away from a tentative commitment to take as many as 50 Max jets.

So far this year, Boeing said customers switched or canceled firm contracts for 85 737s that had previously been entered into its books. A surprise contract for 200 Max planes from British Airways owner IAG SA, announced at the Paris show, has yet to be finalized and didn’t feature in the numbers.

Airbus also streaked ahead of its U.S. competitor in deliveries, clocking up 389 in the six months, against a full-year goal of 880 to 890. Boeing has handed over just 239 planes, after having to store completed Max jets at various locations following the moratorium on flights. Before the groundings it had targeted a total of 895 to 905.

The gap in deliveries suggests Airbus has a strong chance of wrestling back the crown of world’s biggest planemaker in 2019 after a seven-year gap. Boeing held on to the title by just six jets in 2018 after both companies kept their factories running through the year-end holidays.

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