Airbus has admitted that meeting its target of delivering 800 aircraft this year will pose a “greater stretch” even after it adjusted the total to include 18 A220s, the former Bombardier C Series program of which the European OEM took control in July. Speaking during the company’s nine-month earnings call with investment analysts on Wednesday, CFO Harald Wilhelm said the European airplane maker's own output shortfall of about 20 aircraft results from production issues with the A320neo and the A330neo programs. He also mentioned “certain commercial challenges” involving the A330ceo and the A380 programs, suggesting the revised delivery target could see a further downgrade.
“In the revised number of the around 780 commercial aircraft, we still target to deliver all of the A330ceos which we are discussing with a customer and also some A380s that are also being discussed with a customer,” he said, adding that Airbus “is actively working on it” and hopes to resolve the situation before the end of the year. Wilhelm did not disclose the number of A330ceos concerned or reveal the name of the customer. He said he did not wish to comment on whether the A380 delivery delays involve ongoing discussions between Emirates and engine makers Rolls-Royce and Engine Alliance. Airbus delivered eight A380s so far this year, two of which it shipped in the third quarter. It set a target of 12 deliveries at the beginning of 2018.
Airbus delivered 503 commercial aircraft in the first nine months, compared with 454 in the year-ago period, comprising eight A220s, 395 A320 family aircraft, 31 A330ceos, 61 A350s, and eight A380s.
“This leaves us with a lot to do to deliver on our commitment for the remainder of the year,” Wilhelm reckoned. “We are very much focused on the A320neo ramp-up,” he said, conceding that production continues to feel the effects of the late availability of engines in the first half and some internal industrial challenges. “The whole industrial plan has been reshuffled time and again, which is what we feel right now,” he said. New production methods in the new Hamburg facility and more complex-than-anticipated cabin customization of the A321LR have added to the organic disruption.
Airbus has stepped up deliveries of the A320neo and shipped 222 examples in the first nine months, compared with 90 in the first nine months of 2017. The OEM still targets a 60-per-month rate by mid-2019 and continues to work on a prospective further rate increase beyond 60 “[given] the commercial success of the program, the backlog, and the health of the bookings,” according to Wilhelm.
He remained vague on how many A330neos Airbus hopes to deliver and said only that Airbus has adjusted the schedule “to reflect the engine partner’s latest 2018 outlook.” Rolls-Royce last week said it would fall short of its goal to deliver 30 Trent 7000 turbofans by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, entry into service of the A330-900 by launch operator TAP Air Portugal “is clearly targeted before the end of the year,” Wilhelm said.
Airbus booked 311 gross orders in the first nine months of the year (including A220s), but customers canceled orders covering 55, resulting in a net order count of 256, compared with 271 in the year-ago period. “This leaves a bit of work for our new friend Scherer on the commercial side,” Wilhelm reckoned. Former ATR CEO Christian Scherer took over as chief commercial officer in September following the sudden resignation of Eric Schulz.