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Airbus Net Orders Rise But Still Lag Behind On 2019 Deliveries

Airbus posted higher aeroplane orders for 2019 but failed to keep pace with deliveries for the second year in a row after axing its A380 superjumbo program and clearing its books of some defunct deals leftover from a faltering industry order boom. Airbus SE delivered a record 863 planes last year, edging beyond its target of about 860 after overcoming production snarls with its best-selling A320 family- a chief rival to Boeing Co’s 737 MAX.

The delivery tally means Airbus is set to displace Boeing as the world’s biggest planemaker when the US firm, hobbled by the crisis around the Max. The European company faced its own hurdles, with a wider range of cabin options on the A321 delaying handovers and requiring it to lift December output 75 per cent from November to reach its overall target. 

Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said narrow-body production may not be back to track until 2021, by which time production is due to hit 63 planes a month, versus 60 now. Airbus used the opportunity of a stronger than expected year attracting new business to rid its books of dozens of old orders deemed unlikely to come to fruition. These included 73 planes on order from Synergy Group, once a star customer in Latin America, and a previously announced overhaul of order books among major Gulf carriers that are revising down their demand for long-haul Airbus and Boeing jets. 

It has been a banner year for at least one aerospace giant in the industry. 

Airbus data brought the 2019 book-to-bill ratio or the ratio of net orders to deliveries to 0.89, the lowest level since the financial crisis in 2009. Both Airbus and Boeing are however enjoying a buffer of some eight years of deliveries at current production rates. With global plane-makers increasingly cleaning the stables of over-optimistic deals accumulated during the industry’s biggest order rush in the past decade, such behaviour has fuelled high oil prices and low-interest rates, thus disabling airlines to take deliveries or at most defer several orders.

Meanwhile, the competitor Boeing continues to struggle after the grounding of the 737 MAX. With an increase of deliverables by 8 per cent over the previous year and boasting 1,131 new aircrafts orders, Airbus Chief Executive officer Guillaume Faury said: “I am happy to see our commercial aircraft order and delivery numbers reflecting the continuous efforts to better serve our customers and bring our competitive products and services to the market”.

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