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Boeing Says Deliveries of Jetliners Hit a Record in ’99

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Boeing Co. said Thursday that its commercial aircraft deliveries this year rose about 10% to a record 620 and that it is on track to deliver 480 aircraft in 2000, which is about 50% more than its European archrival, Airbus Industrie.

Of the 620 deliveries this year, more than 50 came out of Boeing’s Long Beach McDonnell Douglas plant, including about 26 MD-80s, seven MD-90s, half a dozen MD-11s and 12 of its new 717-200 twin jets, said John Thom, spokesman for Boeing’s commercial division in Long Beach. Boeing is the largest private employer in Southern California.

Although Boeing delivered more aircraft than Airbus, it took in fewer new orders.

Boeing’s 1999 orders totaled 380 as of Dec. 23, while Toulouse, France-based Airbus has booked 420 orders this year, putting it ahead of Boeing for the first time in history.

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Earlier this month, Boeing sparked a war of words between the two plane makers when it announced 163 previously unidentified orders placed over the last 18 months, which Airbus promptly disputed.

“One of the biggest factors this year was the requirement to replace Stage 2 or noisier aircraft by Jan. 31, 1999. That was a real push,” said Randy Harrison, a Boeing spokesman. “We expect to see delivery rates go down next year, but we hope to see them up in subsequent years.”

Boeing said its previous record for deliveries was 559 in 1998.

Airbus’ published 1999 order book had been twice Boeing’s before the U.S. company said it would adopt the Airbus policy of counting orders to customers that did not want to be identified.

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So far, Boeing has named the buyers of 70 of the 163, including Century City-based leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp., a subsidiary of American International Group Inc., which will buy 50 single-aisle 737s and has options for 50 more.

“I would have been surprised from what the anticipation was a year and a half ago,” Paul Nisbet, an analyst for JSA Research, said. But “it became apparent they were going to do it [break their record] with relative ease.”

Boeing said it is on track to achieve further production improvements in 2000. The company’s airplane group has been battling back this year from nearly two years of production delays and other problems.

Airbus is a consortium of DaimlerChrysler’s Dasa, Aerospatiale Matra of France and Spain’sCasa--all of which are merging--and Britain’s BAE Systems.

Boeing stock rose 25 cents to close at $41.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.


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