Airbus will Deliver 566 Jets in the Corona Year

The pandemic has hit the aviation industry particularly hard. Many airlines were only able to save themselves from bankruptcy.

The aviation group Airbus took in more aircraft orders than canceled cancellations in the past year, despite the Corona crisis.

Net orders came in for 268 machines, as the European company announced on Friday evening in Toulouse. Airbus succeeded in delivering 566 jets for the full year. “This also reflects the mutual trust and understanding that we have with our customers,” said Airbus boss Guillaume Faury in a conference call with journalists.

According to Airbus, December was the strongest month of the year with 89 deliveries. However, as expected, Airbus remained far away from the 880 deliveries originally targeted for the full year due to the pandemic and its consequences. It was a difficult year, said Faury. Nevertheless, the group defended its position as the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world. The US rival Boeing had lost the top position to Airbus in 2019 because of the take-off and delivery ban for its most important aircraft type, the 737 Max. The Europeans had delivered 863 airliners that year.

Airbus is unlikely to reach this number again in 2021. The manufacturer has cut its production by around 40 percent. “We’ve adjusted production rates to a new normal,” said Faury. He wants to keep this level for the time being. He hopes to be able to ramp up production of medium-haul jets from the A320neo family again in the second half of the year. In mathematical terms, Airbus would thus deliver more aircraft this year than in the previous year. Faury confirmed this calculation, but did not want to make his own forecast.

The US company Boeing kept the 737 Max crisis under control in the Corona year. It was not until November that the US aviation authority FAA approved the renewed use of the 737 Max after a series of technical changes and improvements to the software. The approval by the European aviation authority EASA is expected from mid-January. The flight ban was imposed in March 2019 after two crashes with 346 dead.

Because the US company was unable to deliver the 737 Max machines and also temporarily stopped production, it was only able to hand over 118 machines across the entire model range to its customers in the first eleven months. Boeing has not yet published the December figures. In addition, Boeing customers canceled more than 500 aircraft between January and November.

Airbus received new orders for 383 machines – especially before the outbreak of the pandemic. In return, the group received 115 cancellations. 66 of them came from the first quarter and, according to earlier information from the manufacturer, had nothing to do with the Corona crisis.

However, many airlines have postponed the acceptance of aircraft that have already been ordered months or years into the future. This has far-reaching consequences for production at Airbus. In spring, the manufacturer’s delivery numbers dropped significantly due to the Corona crisis. Since the summer things have improved a good bit. However, due to the corona-related collapse in global air traffic, Airbus and Boeing have significantly reduced their aircraft production and announced the shedding of tens of thousands of jobs.

The talks with the employee side are progressing, said Faury about the job cuts announced in the summer. He can only imagine new hires from 2022 or 2023. After all, not as many jobs are being cut as the throttled aircraft production would suggest.

Many airlines like Lufthansa were only able to save themselves from bankruptcy thanks to state aid. They currently do not need additional jets and they would also find it difficult to pay because of the collapsed income in the flight business. Industry representatives expect that global air traffic will only return to the level of 2019 in a few years. Even though many countries have now started vaccinations against the corona virus, Airbus boss Faury continues to see great uncertainty with regard to the further development of the aviation business.