FLEET WATCH: Year 2008

By Antoine Fafard

Net airliner orders nearly halve from 2007 peak

The final tally of airliner orders for 2008 has come in at 1,792, down by almost half on 2007 and marking the lowest volume of net orders for four years. Some 2,197 new orders came in for the year, but were offset by 405 cancellations, only slightly fewer than in 2007. Overall, the order backlog ended the year at 8,477, up 526 on the previous year.

Airbus emerged as the leader in the 2008 order battle with 777 net orders for the year, followed by Boeing with 662.

Embraer won in the regional jet battle scoring 166 net orders against Bombardier’s 60, although the Canadian manufacturer had another 61 Dash 8 turboprops.

Narrowbody net orders were down more than 45% for the year at 956, with the Boeing 737 in the lead with 484 orders but closely followed by the Airbus A320 family with 472.

Widebody net orders came in at 483, less than half of the record high achieved in 2007. Airbus emerged as a clear leader, counting 163 new net orders for the A350 and 142 for the A330. Boeing also won 93 orders for the 787 and 54 for the 777. However, there were only three orders for the Boeing 747 while Airbus suffered a net loss of four aircraft from the Airbus A340 orderbook.

A total of 239 net orders for regional jets came in the year, down sharply from 403 in 2007. Turboprops net orders stood at 114 aircraft, down from a net of 264 in the previous year.

The Gulf region led in terms of orders placed for the year. Etihad Airways ordered a total of 76 widebodies, including 35 787s and 25 A350s, while Gulf Air ordered another 36, a mix of 787s and A330s.

Players from the Gulf also featured heavily among the narrowbody orders, with Dubai’s DAE Capital ordering 70 A320s alongside 30 A350s. Meanwhile low-cost FlyDubai ordered 50 737s, while both Etihad and Gulf Air ordered A320s.

However, the biggest single narrowbody customer for the year came in the shape of China’s import/export corporation CASGC, which took 110 A320 family aircraft, as Air China ordered 30 narrowbodies and another 20 widebodies. Lessor AWAS also ordered 75 A320s putting it behind CASGC into second place in the order stakes. Elsewhere Indonesia’s Lion Airlines ordered 56 737s, while Aviation Capital Group ordered 55 narrowbodies, a mix of 737s and A320s.

The year’s largest cancellation came from US low-cost operator Skybus Airlines, which collapsed holding 65 A319 orders. US Airways also shed 15 Embraer 190s while its new parent America West Airlines cancelled 12 A318s. Spanish carrier Air Europa cancelled 10 A350s.

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