Despite receiving an industry record 1,619 new aircraft orders in 2013, Airbus Group NV (EPA:AIR) remains the world’s second largest aircraft manufacturer behind The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). However, the French-based manufacturer aims to change this trend and is considering a two-stage increase in the production of its most popular jets by 2017.
Airbus recorded 626 deliveries in 2013, an internal record, just 22 behind its main rival, Boeing. The Chicago-based planemaker received 1,355 net orders compared with Airbus’ 1,503 orders, an 80 percent increase from 2012.
Airbus closed the year with an industry-record backlog of 5,559 aircraft orders worth $809 billion at list prices. Boeing currently has 5,080 aircraft on back order.
The aircraft industry had been riding out the recession thanks to emerging-market growth and the mass replacement of old fleets in the United States, but given the huge backlogs, both firms are going to have to find ways to increase production to clear the unprecedented backlogs.
"We cannot continue at this level (of orders), but what we are doing is continuing to increase production," said Airbus sales chief John Leahy.
Airbus currently produces 42 medium-haul A320 jets a month and Boeing around 38 of its equivalent 737 a month, which it expects to grow to 47 by 2017.
"We still have some homework but we believe there is some potential to go higher than 42; there is an upside and we are studying it for the (A320) ceo," Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier told reporters.
"Then when we have moved to the (A320)neo, we know that we will ramp up again. Whatever we do or don't do now, we know that we will ramp up again. We will go higher than rate 42 (per month) in 2018, 2019 and following years," Bregier said, referring to the neo or "new engine option" version of the plane that is expected to enter service in 2015.