Boeing Co. maintained its lead over Airbus Industrie in winning new aircraft orders in the first seven months of the year, outpacing the only other maker of big commercial airplanes 334 to 249.
For both planemakers, the seven-month figures aren't considerably different from the six-month tallies, even after huge airline purchase commitments were announced at the Farnborough Air Show last week, because the vast majority of announcements made there weren't for firm orders.
Boeing announced agreements for more than 130 jetliners valued at more than $12 billion at the air show in the last week of July while Airbus unveiled commitments for more than 200 planes valued at $15 billion.
``It certainly confuses the issue if you're trying to keep track of what's going on,'' said Paul Nisbet, an analyst at JSA Research in Newport, Rhode Island. ``With the public relations battle going on between the two, if one announces something, the other feels obliged or else they look like they're falling behind.''
Nisbet said that while Boeing's tally for firm orders gives it a 57 percent market share for the seven months, Airbus was likely to narrow that margins by year's end, assuming it can turn its commitments into orders.
Preliminary agreements can take six months or even a year to be negotiated into firm orders or can also fail to result in a firm agreement.
Even as orders fluctuate between the two companies, Boeing has remained the world's largest maker of commercial airliners because it still delivers about twice as many annually as Airbus. Orders can take years to translate into sales and are sometimes canceled.
In 1999, Airbus won orders for 476 planes and Boeing won orders for 391 planes. Both planemakers are expected to do better this year than last on new orders as a strong economy in the U.S. and an economic recovery in Asia fuel purchases.