Check out the single-aisle jets that dominated Airbus and Boeing's deliveries for 2021 as airlines continue to downsize to smaller and more efficient aircraft

·4-min read
Boeing and Airbus.
Boeing and Airbus.Boeing/Airbus
  • Airbus and Boeing revealed their deliveries for 2021, and Airbus maintained its crown as the world's top planemaker.

  • Single-aisle jets dominated as airlines continue to seek smaller aircraft for the long-haul market.

  • Boeing delivered 263 of its 737 family planes while Airbus delivered 483 A320 family aircraft.

Airbus and Boeing have had a rivalry for decades, fighting to be the top planemaker in the world.

Boeing and Airbus.
Boeing and Airbus.Boeing/Airbus

Boeing started manufacturing planes in 1928, well before Airbus was officially founded in 1970. Boeing began with single-aisle jets, like the 707 and the 727.

Pan Am Boeing 707
Pan Am Boeing 707ullstein bild Dtl./Getty Images

Source: Britannica

After Airbus entered the market with the world's first twin-engine widebody plane in 1972, the A300, Boeing realized the strong competition and the two would go head-to-head for the next 50 years trying to one-up the other.

Airbus A300B.
Airbus A300B.Airbus

Source: Airbus

For example, in 1978, Boeing launched the 767 to operate in the same market as the A300.

Boeing 767.
Boeing 767.Boeing

Source: Insider

Then, in 1984, Airbus launched its highly successful A320 aircraft to compete with Boeing's popular 737.

JetBlue A320 aircraft.
JetBlue A320 aircraft.Marcus Mainka/Shutterstock

Source: Insider

As of November, the company has delivered 10,110 A320 family aircraft, though Boeing's popular 737 remains the world's most delivered jet with 10,693 received.

Boeing 737 MAX 8
Boeing 737 MAX 8Boeing

Source: Boeing, Airbus

Up until this point, Boeing was the world leader in the industry, but the success of the A320 would help Airbus rise as a global power.

Airbus A320.
Airbus A320.Airbus

Since the start of the rivalry, both companies continuously innovated their products to become more modernized and efficient, particularly focusing on widebody planes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner…

Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
A Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.Bradley Caslin /

Airbus is one of the most powerful companies in aviation. Here's a closer look at its rise from upstart to industry titan.

…and the Airbus A350.

Airbus A350-1000
Airbus A350-1000Airbus

However, over the years, airlines have started seeking smaller jets that can take passengers as far as previous widebodies, but at lower operating costs.

Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing 737 MAXBlueBarronPhoto/Shutterstock

Source: Insider

Now, both Airbus and Boeing are homing in on that market, making enhancements to their single-aisle planes to improve range and performance capabilities.


In 2021, Airbus delivered 483 of its A320 family aircraft and 50 of its A220 family, compared to 446 and 38 in 2020, respectively.

Airbus A220
Airbus A220Airbus

Source: Airbus

Meanwhile, Boeing delivered 263 of its 737 family jets, with the most being the MAX. The plane has had a troubled past but has been re-certified to fly in over 170 countries.

Ryanair Boeing 737 Max
A Ryanair Boeing 737 Max 8200Croatorum /

Source: Boeing

The Airbus A321neo and the 737 MAX 8 have become increasingly popular for flights across the Atlantic, acting as a more efficient option between low-demand city pairs.

Airbus A321neo.
Airbus A321neo.Airbus

More airlines are choosing single-aisle jets for flights from North America to Europe — see the full evolution of jet-powered transatlantic flying

For example, carriers can fly the A321neo on the same route as the A330, but for cheaper and with fewer seats to fill to make a profit.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 aircraft
Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 aircraftRyan Fletcher/Shutterstock

Small aircraft are flying longer routes, including across the Atlantic. See inside the $130 million Airbus A321neo pioneering the trend.

A number of carriers have started operating narrowbodies on flights between North America and Europe, like JetBlue…

JetBlue Airways Airbus A321
A JetBlue Airways Airbus A321.AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC/Getty

Source: Insider


WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8
WestJet Boeing 737 MAX 8Joel Serre/Shutterstock

Source: Insider

…and United Airlines.

A look at a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max  — United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
United Airlines' brand-new Boeing 737 Max.United Airlines

Source: Insider

While single-aisle jets dominated last year's deliveries, the two manufacturers also rolled out a number of other plane types. Specifically, Boeing delivered seven 747s, 32 767s, 24 777s, and 14 787 Dreamliners.

Boeing 777 and 787.
Boeing 777 and 787.Boeing

Source: Boeing

Meanwhile, Airbus delivered 18 A330s, 55 A350s, and five A380s. The 611 total deliveries exceeded the company's year-end goal and solidified its rank as the world's largest planemaker for the third year in a row.

Airbus widebody jets.
Airbus widebody jets.Airbus

Source: Airbus

Last year marked the very last A380 produced — it was delivered in December to the world's largest operator of the superjumbo, Emirates.

Final Airbus A380 to Emirates
The final Airbus A380 bound for Emirates.Airbus - Bockfilm / Michael Lindner

Airbus delivered the final Airbus A380 ever to be built just as airlines learn to love the world's largest passenger jet again

Boeing will have to step up production to beat out Airbus, particularly after halting deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner. However, it is off to a good start after announcing Allegiant Air made a firm order for 50 737 MAXs.

Rendering of Allegiant 737 MAX jets.
Rendering of Allegiant 737 MAX jets.Allegiant Air

Ultra-low-cost airline Allegiant is flipping its business strategy by buying 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets

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