2017 was a great year for both Airbus (NASDAQOTH:EADSY) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) in terms of bringing in aircraft orders. While Airbus captured the sales crown again, Boeing beat its internal projections with 912 net firm orders for the full year.
Boeing has maintained its order momentum throughout the first half of 2018, whereas Airbus has seen a slowdown in orders following a big surge in the final weeks of 2017. In June, both aircraft manufacturers had a strong month, but Boeing continued to extend its lead.
Airbus finally gets going
In the first five months of 2018, Airbus brought in just 111 net firm orders. Nearly all of those were for A320-family aircraft, a model for which supply constraints are a bigger worry than demand.
The aerospace giant began to turn things around last month, with 100 new firm orders, offset by five cancellations. This nearly doubled the company's year-to-date order total to 206 aircraft.
Importantly, Airbus' June orders included a good mix of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. Airbus received 48 net orders for A320-family aircraft, mainly due to the finalization of an order from Aegean Airlines for 30 planes. It also booked 47 wide-body orders, highlighted by a deal with Turkish Airlines for 25 A350-900s. The struggling A330 wide-body family even got in on the action, with orders for two current-generation A330-200s and 10 A330-900neos.
Boeing still gained ground
While Airbus booked plenty of orders last month, it couldn't keep up with its American rival. Boeing captured 233 firm orders in June (154 net of cancellations). This gives Boeing 460 net firm orders for the year -- more than double Airbus' total.
Most of the new orders in June were for Boeing's 737 MAX narrow-body family. On the first day of the month, Boeing booked two big orders, each for 75 737 MAX aircraft. One was attributed to Boeing Capital Corporation (the company's leasing unit) and the other was attributed to an unidentified customer. There's a good chance that both orders are ultimately destined for India's No. 2 airline, Jet Airways, which has announced orders for 150 737 MAXs during 2018, split into two tranches of 75 aircraft each.
Additionally, Boeing received some key wide-body orders last month, headlined by an order for 767 and 777 freighters from FedEx. The company also booked a handful of orders from unidentified customers for those same models. In total, Boeing added 13 767 orders and 19 777 orders -- or 15, net of cancellations -- to its backlog in June.
The next test is right around the corner
Airbus has already nabbed one major deal in July, as longtime customer JetBlue Airways ordered 60 A220-300s last week. (The A220-300 is the new name for the Bombardier CS300, following Airbus' recent takeover of the CSeries aircraft program.) Furthermore, the 2018 Farnborough Airshow kicks off on Monday. This is the biggest air show of the year, and it is typically a venue for big aircraft order announcements.
Airbus will be looking to extend the A220's recent order momentum, although it wasn't able to start talking to customers about the plane until July 1, when it closed its acquisition of a majority stake in the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership. It also desperately needs to line up more A330neo orders, preferably with at least one new marquee customer to join Delta Air Lines.
Meanwhile, Boeing will look to maintain or extend its 2018 order advantage, particularly in the wide-body market. Boeing hasn't received a 777X order in more than a year. With that type's entry into service just two years away, it may be time for a renewed sales push. Boeing will also try to firm up some existing commitments for its popular 787 Dreamliner.
Check back later in the week to find out how the world's two dominant aircraft manufacturers are faring at Farnborough.