Airbus Sticks to 2018 Delivery Target Despite Sluggish First Half

 - July 6, 2018, 2:13 PM

Airbus CEO Tom Enders on Friday reiterated that the company would meet its delivery target of 800 aircraft this year, despite handing over just 303 to customers in the first six months mainly due to the A320neo’s persistent engine problems. Nevertheless, “it will be hard,” Enders admitted during a press briefing in London Friday.

Despite the slow pace of deliveries in the first half, Airbus and the engine manufacturers—Pratt & Whitney and CFM—have seen progress on mitigating the delays, according to the OEM’s commercial aircraft president, Guillaume Faury. “In May and June we delivered more neos than ceos,” he said, adding that the number of gliders--A320s without engines--parked at the Airbus facilities had fallen to 86 at the end of June from around 100 at the end May.

Regarding deliveries to Iran, Airbus will not ship no more aircraft after August 6, Enders told AIN. “Boeing has delivered none; we delivered some,” he said. Airbus had not yet decided on whether or not to seek a new export license from the U.S. authorities, he said, describing the situation as “regrettable.”

“The Obama administration asked us to sell more aircraft to Iran; now we are not allowed to deliver them,” he complained.

The executives’ comments came as Airbus raised its forecast for aircraft demand over the next 20 years. It now expects the market will need 37,390 new passenger and freighter aircraft, around 2,500 more compared with the OEM’s outlook last year. The bulk of the new deliveries, 26,540 aircraft, will go toward fleet expansion to support an anticipated growth of average annual air traffic of 4.4 percent, while the remaining 10,850 cover replacement of older generation, less fuel efficient aircraft.

Overall, Airbus predicts that the global fleet will more than double, from 21,450 aircraft at the beginning of 2018 to 48,000 in 2037, resulting in a need for some 540,000 pilots, it said.

Airbus introduced a new segmentation system for its forecast, splitting the demand into four categories and making comparison with the forecast of rival Boeing more difficult. The new system, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz said, reflects more closely the way airlines operate aircraft. “There is a growing trend to use aircraft across a broader range of operations, with today’s more capable aircraft blurring the boundaries between market segments,” he said.

According to Airbus, it controlled a 54 percent share of the passenger aircraft backlog at the end of 2017 and a leading market share in three of four of its new categories, including a 54 percent share in the “small” segment (from 100 to 230 seats and a range up to 3,000 nm), 88 percent in the “medium” segment (230 to 300 seats and a 5,000 nm range), and 52 percent in the “large” segment (300 to 350 seats and range of up to 10,000 nm). “Extra-large” covers the A350-1000 and the slow-selling A380, allowing Airbus to forecast a rather healthy demand for 1,590 new aircraft in that category over the next two decades.