Boeing missed its aircraft delivery target in 2011 after shipping fewer 787 Dreamliners and 747-8 jumbo jets to customers than planned, while larger rival Airbus SAS topped its own higher goal.
The handover of three 787s and nine 747-8s by Dec. 31 was short of Boeing’s October goal of delivering a combined 15 to 20 because “we just couldn’t get all the work done on those airplanes to get them out the door by the end of the year,” Randy Tinseth, commercial-jet marketing chief, said in an interview Thursday.
The deficit meant that Boeing delivered 477 commercial jets, short of an October projection for 480 that itself had been lowered from an earlier forecast. In contrast, Airbus beat its target and released more than 530 planes to customers, said two people familiar with the figures, who asked not to be identified since an official announcement is slated for Jan. 17.
“The shortfall of deliveries has reminded people that there are still challenges ahead” as Boeing works toward its goal of assembling 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of 2013, said Rob Stallard, an analyst with RBC Capital in New York. Workers are currently building 2.5 a month.
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The 787 was more than three years late after a series of delays when it was turned over to its initial customer, Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co., in September. The 747-8 was two years behind schedule when Cargolux Airlines International SA received the first one in October.
“Boeing has a good track record of consistently missing their own targets,” Stallard said.
For the composite-plastic Dreamliner, “we expect lumpy deliveries and are therefore not overly concerned with 3-4 deliveries slipping out of 2011 and into 2012,” Jason Gursky, a Citigroup Global Markets analyst, said in a note Wednesday.
Timing is significant, because Boeing gets about 40 percent of the payments from airlines upon delivery.
All Nippon expected its third 787 to reach Japan today, after signing for the plane on Dec. 30, said Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman. The jet had been due in November but was held back by production delays.
The additional setback forced the Tokyo-based carrier to postpone the start of 787 services to Beijing by a month and disrupted the plane’s introduction on flights to Frankfurt.
A new 787 assembly line in South Carolina and the temporary surge line being constructed next to the initial one in Washington state are in good shape, Citigroup’s Gursky said.
That suggests Boeing can meet its production goal by 2013 once it finishes reworking jets built during the three-year delay to the plane’s entry into service, he wrote.
“Investors will likely shrug off the missed 787s, as 2012 has long been the real start-up year for deliveries,” Heidi Wood, an analyst with Morgan Stanley in New York, wrote Thursday. “We project the delivery of 55 787s in 2012,” with about 40 built already that are already parked in Seattle, she wrote.
The company reported 25 new orders for the 787 Thursday, without saying who had bought them. That made the final tally positive for the year, after 32 cancellations that previously outpaced 20 orders.