2004 was another landmark year for Airbus, a year in which the manufacturer once more maintained its position as Number one, both in terms of orders and deliveries.

With 320 aircraft delivered, Airbus exceeded expectations at the beginning of the year when it had indicated that the 2004 deliveries would be “at best” as high as in 2003, when it delivered 305 aircraft. The 320 deliveries also make up some 53 per cent of all deliveries of aircraft above 100 seats, and lead to a turnover of slightly over Euros 20 billion. Deliveries included 233 A320 Family aircraft, 37 A300-600 Freighters and A330-200s, and 50 A330-300s and A340s.

In terms of orders, Airbus also maintained its lead, with 370 new firm orders valued at USD 34 billion, and representing 57 percent of the market in terms of units. Over the year Airbus registered only four cancellations, which do not impact the market share. These results compare to 284 new firm gross orders in 2003.

“These results are very encouraging and confirm that the market is slowly recovering from the downturn of the first half of the decade. We are very confident in the long expected growth of the air travel industry, which needs seats to cope with the ever increasing demand for air transportation,” says Airbus President and CEO Noël Forgeard. “These results also clearly reflect the popularity of the Airbus product line, which is unquestionably established as the leader in all market segments."

With 279 orders and a 64 percent share of the market, the Airbus Single Aisle Family is definitely the reference, whether with full service or low cost carriers. In this latter category, Airbus won seven new customers and a number of repeat orders. In the widebody long range category, the A330/A340 Family also continued in the lead with 56 firm orders representing 57 percent of all orders placed in the 330-375 seat category. In particular, the A340-500 entered service with Singapore Airlines, enabling for the first time ever non stop connections between Los Angeles and New York to Singapore. Finally, Airbus also outperformed its predictions of getting one additional customer per year for the A380 in the period prior to its delivery, by actually gaining two new customers for the A380: Etihad Airways and Thai Airways International ordered four and six of the new double decker respectively, bringing the total firm orders to 139 from 13 customers.

2004 was also a very significant year from an industrial and programmes point of view. It was the year in which the A380 started to really take shape, starting with final assembly of the first airframe in May. Four aircraft are currently assembled and undergoing integration tests as per schedule, with the official “Reveal” of the first aircraft on 18th January. Finally, in pursuance of its policy of always listening to the market and to its customers, Airbus also announced in December the commercial launch of a new model as a longer range sistership to the A330 series, the A350-800 and –900.

With the market picking up, Airbus expects to increase its 2005 production rates to match the deliveries which are expected to be some 10 per cent higher this year than in 2004.