Airbus consolidated its position last week as the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer for the fifth consecutive year. announcing that it had delivered more planes and secured more orders than Boeing in 2023. At the same time, Boeing was trying to quell a massive safety and public relations crisis caused by a harrowing near-disaster involving its line of 737 Max planes.

In the long duel between the two aviation rivals, Airbus has taken a big advantage.

“What used to be a duopoly has become two-thirds Airbus and one-third Boeing,” said Richard Aboulafia, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory in Washington, DC. “A lot of people, whether investors, financiers or customers, are looking at Airbus and seeing a company run by competent people,” he said. “The contrast with Boeing is quite stark.”

The incident involving the 737 Max 9, in which a hole opened in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines flight midair, was the latest in a series of safety lapses for Boeing’s workhorse, including two crashes fatalities in 2018 and 2019, which are indirectly helping to boost the fortunes of the European aerospace giant.

As the Federal Aviation Administration expands its scrutiny of Max 9 production, Airbus’ lead is likely to sharpen. Airlines are embarking on massive fleet expansions to meet the post-pandemic surge in demand for global air travel and are considering which carrier to turn to.

Shares in Airbus, a consortium with factories and offices in several European countries, soared to a record on Friday after its chief executive, Guillaume Faury, said the company had secured 2,094 orders for new aircraft in 2023, the most in a single year. That includes the popular single-aisle A320neo planes, its main competitor to the 737 Max.

Boeing too reported more aircraft deliveries and orders in 2023 than the previous year, but at a slower pace than Airbus. The two companies together manufacture the vast majority of the world’s commercial aircraft.

Faury declined to comment directly at a news conference Thursday about the latest problem with Boeing’s Max plane. “We are closely monitoring everything that emerges from the ongoing investigation,” he said.

Airbus has had its own problems: During the pandemic, supply chain problems forced it to cut production and lay off workers, causing a loss of one billion euros ($1.1 billion). Resolved a corruption investigation in 2020 for 4 billion euros. And in 2019 it stopped building the A380 superjumbo jet after airlines demanded smaller models.

Since the Jan. 5 incident with the Max 9, Boeing shares have fallen about 20 percent as investors assess how big a blow the debacle will be. David Calhoun, the company’s chief executive, had said he expected 2024 to be a comeback year. Instead, the company is struggling to contain the new fallout.

Boeing said Monday it would make changes to quality control processes at its factory and that of a major supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, which installed the plug in unused exit doors that exploded on the Alaska Airlines flight. On Tuesday, Boeing announced that it had appointed a retired Navy admiral, Kirkland H. Donald, to evaluate the company’s “quality management system” for commercial airplanes.

While no one was hurt, the Alaska Airlines episode revived safety issues that Boeing had been working to address after two of its Max planes in Asia and Africa crashed in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people. All 737 Max planes were grounded worldwide for two years, creating an unusual opportunity for Airbus to swoop in and take a bigger share of Boeing’s business.

Reports from The New York Times and others revealed pressure within Boeing to compete with Airbus’ A320neo plane, a fast-growing, fuel-efficient success that caught Boeing off guard. Boeing’s decision to build the Max as a variation of the 737 because it would be faster, easier and cheaper than starting from scratch affected the design and development of the plane, playing a role in its troubling history.

“In recent years the economic equation has changed in favor of Airbus,” said Philip Buller, an aviation analyst at London-based Berenberg Bank.

“The disruptions that have been affecting the Boeing Max have made it look like a less reliable aircraft in your fleet,” he said. “So the advantages of it being a little cheaper go out the window because the Airbus is a more reliable plane that you can fly instead of leaving it on the ground.”

Safety concerns have proven costly in other ways for Boeing. The company has nearly $40 billion in debt stemming from the Covid travel slump and the previous 737 Max safety crisis. That has raised questions about the extent to which it will invest in future-generation aircraft as Airbus seeks a competitive advantage, Buller said.

“If you have $40 billion in debt and a plane that is your source of income is grounded because the door blew off, it’s a sign that the administration is not investing in the future but putting out fires today,” he said.

As airlines continue to increase post-pandemic aircraft orders to build newer, larger fleets, Airbus appears to be widening its lead. In two big deals, Air India ordered 250 Airbus planes and IndiGo, India’s largest airline, agreed to buy 500. The company reported an order book of 8,600 planes in 2023, compared with 5,626 for Boeing.

Supply chain problems have made it difficult for both to build planes quickly enough. Airbus delivered 735 aircraft to carriers and airline leasing companies in 2023, at the top end of its target range and more than the 528 delivered by Boeing. Airbus is sold out until the end of this decade for single-aisle planes and until 2028 for its wide-body A350 planes, the company said.

Since the global air fleet is expected to grow by a third over the next decade — Carriers are expected to operate 36,000 aircraft by 2033, up from approximately 27,400 commercial aircraft today; both companies are looking to increase volume in the long term.

Faury said Airbus would increase A320neo production to 75 planes a month in 2026, in a new bid to overtake its rival. Boeing plans to increase production of 737 aircraft to 50 per month around 2025.

For now, Airbus remains humble, at least publicly.

Three days before the Alaska Airlines incident, a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 was engulfed in flames after colliding with a coast guard plane while landing in Japan. The Airbus’ design and materials were credited with preventing the fire from injuring passengers and crew members.

And Spirit AeroSystems, which made the Boeing door stopper, It is also a major supplier to various types of Airbus aircraft. It manufactures wing parts for the A320 at a plant in Scotland and center section panels at its North Carolina plant for the A350 fuselage. Faury said Airbus was closely monitoring the US regulatory investigation into Boeing and its supplier.

He downplayed concerns that the race between Airbus and Boeing to produce more in-demand planes in the coming years could impact quality, saying safety, integrity and compliance were the company’s main pillars.

After the Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines incidents, “we are all very focused, each one on our product, to understand, analyze and learn all the lessons,” Faury said during a separate appearance last week at a French aerospace meeting.

“We always ask ourselves the question: What does that say about precautions that we may not have thought about that we need to think about?” Mr. Faury said. “To what extent could this happen to us?”