Sun, Dec 30, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Airbus pulls out all stops to reach target of 800 airplanes as fire slows deliveries


With just a few days left before 2018 is over, Airbus SE said it was working flat-out to reach a goal of delivering 800 airplanes during the year.

The Boeing Co rival is maximizing efforts to meet its target, which requires it to hand over at least 127 aircraft to customers this month.

Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer and his sales team were meanwhile still on the road chasing new orders, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said.

“The year isn’t over,” he said by telephone on Friday.

After falling behind schedule this year amid supplier glitches with engines, Airbus gave itself a chance of meeting its main aircraft-related metric with a bumper tally of 89 planes last month, 15 more than in November last year.

Closing the gap would mean making the same number of deliveries this month that it managed in December last year.

A fire at Airbus’s Premium Aerotec subsidiary in Augsburg, Germany, is not expected to have any impact on airplane deliveries.

Airbus is assessing the situation and would work with the aerostructure manufacturer on mitigation measures if necessary, Schaffrath said.

The Toulouse, France-based company scaled back its initial target of delivering 820 planes this year at the time of its third-quarter earnings update and also plans to include the A220 model recently acquired from Bombardier Inc, boosting its chances of reaching the new goal.

The pressure was further eased when Dubai-based Emirates last month accepted two A380 superjumbos that it had initially refused to take in a dispute with Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC over the performance of the engines.

Handovers of A330 wide-bodies have been held up partly by a cash crunch at Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co (海航集團), the parent of Hainan Airlines (海南航空), Capital Airlines (首都航空) and Tianjin Airlines (天津航空).

Official order and delivery figures are to be released next month.

Beating the delivery goal without relying on the A220 would come as a major boost to Airbus, although it might be beyond its reach.

The company also appeared set to fall short of the 810 to 815 handovers being targeted by Boeing, which is keeping some plants operating through the holidays.

That means the US company is likely to retain the title of the world’s biggest planemaker.

Airbus’ order tally is set to be significantly below that of last year, when the company sold more than 1,100 jetliners following a blockbuster 430-plane deal from airline-investment firm Indigo Partners that was announced on Dec. 28 that year.

As of last month the planemaker had won 380 jetliner orders, or 439 excluding cancelations, although the figure will be swollen by a contract from Irish leasing firm Avolon for 100 A320neo-family single-aisle planes revealed on Dec. 7 and worth US$11.5 billion at list prices.

That deal was originally announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July, where Airbus unveiled sales of 431 planes valued at US$62 billion — business that it has since mostly struggled to convert into firm orders.

The blaze at Premium Aerotec damaged machinery worth at least 10 million euros (US$11.44 million) and would disrupt the unit’s own production, spokeswoman Barbara Sagel said.

Options for mitigation include switching some output to five other sites of the unit, including four in Germany and one in Romania, Airbus said.

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