Boeing commercial aircraft orders slid 53 per cent with demand from airlines falling in the face of global recessionary trends and record fuel prices damaging the air travel industry. European rival, Airbus, now becomes the world's largest commercial aircraft manufacturer.
This is a position that both manufacturers interchange frequently even as they maintain a duopoly in the field of large commercial aircraft manufacture.
Airbus is due to announce its numbers for 2008 next week. However, it crossed Boeing's orders and deliveries totals by the end of November itself, even as Boeing struggled to normalize production after an eight week machinists strike.
Boeing said yesterday its commercial aircraft orders fell 53 per cent last year to 662, from the record 1,413 achieved in 2007. This record year followed two earlier record years with new orders of 1,044 in 2006 and 1,002 in 2005.
Boeing said yesterday that demand from airlines around the world was falling rapidly in the face of a global recession and tightening credit. It also said it expected orders to slide again this year.
It said its deliveries fell 15 per cent in 2008, from 441 to 375.
Its prestigious 787 Dreamliner programme is already running two years late. Virgin Atlantic, the UK carrier controlled by Sir Richard Branson, said yesterday it had been informed by Boeing its first 787 deliveries would be about two and a half years late with the first Dreamliner to be delivered in the third quarter of 2013, instead of March/April 2011.