2003 was a landmark year for Airbus, the year in which it became Number One.
With 305 deliveries in 2003, Airbus slightly exceeded its target of 300, and remains approximately at the same level as 2002 (303), despite the difficulties and uncertainties experienced in the air transportation business during 2003.
These deliveries represent 52 percent of the year?s total deliveries. They include the first A318 deliveries to Frontier Airlines of the USA and to Air France, as well as the first A340-500s to Qatar, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines. These deliveries make for a turnover of ? 19.3 billion, including Airbus Military SL for a small amount.
In 2003, Airbus achieved 284 new firm orders from 24 customers, including 155 for the A320 Single Aisle Family, six A300-600s, 89 for the A330/A340 Family, and 34 for the all new double-deck A380. These orders, valued at US$ 32.8 billion at catalogue prices, give Airbus a 54 percent market share in the category of aircraft above 100 seats. When taking cancellations into account, Airbus? net order book comprises 254 aircraft, with Airbus maintaining a 52 percent market share.
Overall, these results reflect the progressive leadership of Airbus in all market segments of this highly competitive market, in which the company today offers a complete product range ? from 100 to 555 seats - which is clearly becoming the reference. The success is especially significant in the wide-body field. The orders placed by four customers, including two new ones, for Airbus? A380 double-decker, which is due to first fly in early 2005, are significant and confirm the market?s interest in the all new airliner. And in its own market, the A330/A340 programme got more than 80 percent of all orders.
Thanks to these orders, Airbus is able to maintain a high delivery backlog of 1,454 aircraft, which, at current rates, represents some five years of production.
From a ?programmes? and industrial perspective, Airbus did more than manage successfully the very difficult industry environment of 2003. It began delivering the new A318, the smallest member of the Airbus Single Aisle aircraft Family seating 107 passengers in a standard layout, and the A340-500, the longest range airliner, which allows non-stop flights from Singapore to New York. It also continued with the development and production of the new A380, as scheduled and on target. Components and major subassemblies of the aircraft are taking shape throughout the Airbus factories in Europe, with contributions from associates and suppliers around the world. The first big sections are currently being completed at Airbus? European locations, and will begin reaching Toulouse for final assembly in April 2004.
On the military front, the A400M reached a major milestone on 27th May with the formal launch of the programme, when OCCAR, representing the seven NATO customer nations, and Airbus Military signed a contract for the acquisition of 180 aircraft. Subsequently, the engine and propeller selection was completed, and the Quality Plan released to customers.
Commenting these results, Noël Forgeard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus said: ?All in all, Airbus managed the difficulties of 2003 quite well and, with its highly competitive product range ? the most modern and complete in the industry ? it is now in a good position to fully benefit from the market recovery when it comes. Yet for 2004, we expect the market to remain soft, with deliveries close to 300?.