UK Leasing

Airbus retains lead planners with 8% increase in deliveries By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at the entrance to the Airbus Delivery Center in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, November 6, 2018. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau /

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) -Airbus retained its crown as the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer for the third year in a row, beating Boeing (NYSE 🙂 by delivering 611 aircraft in 2021, up 8% from the previous year , according to company data on Monday.

The numbers gave Airbus an unassailable lead on revenue-generating deliveries – the industry’s main yardstick – after Boeing delivered 302 planes in the first 11 months.

After cutting production mainly due to the pandemic, aircraft manufacturers are seeing increased demand for passenger and medium-haul cargo planes, despite global concerns over Omicron.

Reuters reported last week that Airbus auditors, who must validate each delivery, were split between 605 and 611 jets after last-minute transfers took the total above an official target of 600. The result confirms the top of the range.

Airbus said it sold 771 planes in 2021, a net total of 507 after cancellations, almost double the 2020 level.

Managing Director Guillaume Faury described this as “the beginnings of a recovery” and added: “The demand is real”.

Boeing is bouncing back more slowly as it grapples with the fallout from a 737 MAX safety crisis and negotiates issues that have suspended deliveries of its widebody 787 Dreamliner.

Recent changes in accounting rules and sharp fluctuations in airline fortunes during the COVID-19 crisis have made it more difficult to compare the underlying performance of the two aircraft giants.

With Airbus well ahead of deliveries, the winner of new orders depends on which accounting definition of net orders investors prefer when Boeing releases the data on Tuesday.

Based on partial 2021 data, Boeing appears poised to at least match Airbus on net orders on an adjusted basis after a recent deal with Allegiant for 50,737 MAX that surfaced last week.

For the first 11 months of 2021, orders rebounded strongly to 829 aircraft but fell to a net total of 400 after cancellations.

On an adjusted basis, Boeing recorded 457 net orders at the end of November after partially restoring its backlog of orders it had at one point deemed unlikely to materialize.

Barring any surprise new orders, data from Airbus suggests that Boeing faces a more difficult task to match its big rival in terms of net orders on an unadjusted basis.

INTACT PRODUCTION PLANS

Airbus is starting 2022 with some momentum. Recent orders from Air France-KLM and Qantas have not yet been booked.

He announced on Monday a new sale of 22 small A220 jets to Azorra, a Florida leasing company.

Boeing continues to dominate booming cargo sales as lockdowns boost online shopping. Airbus has taken the first orders for a new A350 cargo aircraft, although in part replacing existing orders for passenger versions with cargo planes.

Faury said production plans for the widebody A350 had not been affected by a dispute with Qatar Airways over surface issues on existing jets.

He reaffirmed his intention to increase production of the small A320 family, which competes with the Boeing 737 in the most active part of the market, from around 30% to 65 per month by summer 2023.

Airbus expects to decide mid-year whether to push that figure even higher despite resistance from leasing companies and engine manufacturers who are making the most of existing jets.

Like Boeing, Airbus performs an accounting exercise to reflect the likelihood that certain aircraft will not be delivered. But it applies that to the value of cumulative orders once a year, rather than expressing it as the number of aircraft affected.

Analysts say adopting the same methodology as Boeing would mean a lower net order count for Airbus than the 507 published for 2021, but the extent of the gap is unclear.