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Airbus topples Boeing to become world's largest planemaker

By Lawrence Gash

European manufacturer shrugs off snags to deliver 863 aircraft in 2019, 57 more than US rival

European aerospace manufacturer Airbus become the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world in 2019, knocking American rival Boeing off the top spot.

With a market cap of $114bn (£86.5bn, €102bn), Airbus has been trailing its US competitor since 2011. However the planemaker beat production forecasts to deliver 863 aircraft in 2019, a 7.9 per cent rise on 2018, compared with Boeing’s 806.

By contrast Boeing had a turbulent year, with its 737 Max aircraft grounded by global aviation authorities over safety failings that contributed to the deaths of 346 people in two crashes.

After failing in repeated attempts to overturn the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision, and the failed launch of its Starliner space capsule, Boeing sacked CEO Dennis Muilenburg who had been at the company for 34 years.

Airbus encountered difficulties of its own last year. There were repeated delays in fitting the layout on A321neo jets in its Hamburg factory. As a result, it cut its delivery goal by 2-3 per cent in October and injected extra resources late in the year.

Rivalry between the two manufacturers spilled over into the geopolitical realm in 2019. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) upheld a US complaint that EU states, including France, were subsidising Airbus to help it compete with Boeing. Washington imposed retaliatory tariffs on $7.5bn of EU goods, mainly wine, cheese and malt whisky.

In the year's first day of trading Airbus reached a monthly high, up 3.46 per cent by late morning at €135.00.

Boeing stock closed on New Year’s Eve at a near monthly low of $325.76 but gained 0.99 per cent in pre-market trading.

Further Reading: Boeing fires its CEO over the 737 MAX scandal

Further Reading: Australia’s Qantas selects Airbus for longest direct flights

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