Boeing Co. said on Thursday that it delivered 601 planes last year, putting it on track to beat European rival Airbus as the top plane maker for the year.
Airbus has beaten Boeing in deliveries in recent years, but Boeing is now cranking out its new 787 and a revamped 747 after delays for both aircraft. Its delivery total was the most since 1999 — the height of an Internet-driven boom and a time when airlines were relatively flush with cash. The following decade brought two U.S. recessions and airline bankruptcies.
Boeing also says it booked orders for 1,203 commercial jets — its second biggest order year in the company's history. The big driver for 2012 orders was its plan to put new, more fuel-efficient engines on its workhorse 737. The plane has been a strong seller, and Boeing booked orders for 1,124 last year. Boeing is still making the current version of the plane and aims to begin delivering the Max in 2017. The Max was a response to Airbus' A320neo, for "new engine option," which boosted Airbus orders in 2011.
Airbus has not reported full-year orders and deliveries yet. Through November, it had booked orders for 585 planes and delivered 516.