Airbus at 50

Airbus recently marked 50 years since it was established with a special flypast involving its A220- 300, A320, A330-900, A350-1000, A380 and BelugaXL and the Patrouille de France.

The anniversary flypast took place in the same week as the company delivered its 12,000th aircraft (the 12th A220-300 for Delta Air Lines), a delivery that occurred 45 years to the month after Airbus handed over its first aircraft, an A300B2, to Air France in May 1974.

The dates at which Airbus has passed significant delivery markers in the decades since then attest to the company’s growing stature in commercial aircraft production, which created the fiercely contested duopoly with Boeing and forged the shape of the industry today.

Airbus airliners in formation with the Patrouille de France offthe southwestern French coast in late May.
S Ramadier/Airbus

It took Airbus nearly 19 years to deliver 1,000 aircraft, which was an Air France A340-300 handed over in March 1993, but the milestones have fallen quickly since then.

Aircraft 2,000 (a Lufthansa A340- 300) was handed over in May 1999, followed by the 3,000th (a JetBlue A320) in July 2002, the 5,000th (a Qantas A330-200) in 2007 and the 10,000th (a Singapore Airlines A350-900) in 2016.

The 11,000th (a Frontier Airlines A320) was handed over as recently as March 2018, meaning Airbus has delivered 1,000 aircraft in 14 months, a figure it once took nearly two decades to reach. This testifies to the rapid ramp-up in airliner production rates in recent years.