A220 Order Boosts Airbus's Modest 2018 Sales Campaign

 - January 9, 2019, 3:00 PM

(Story updated January 10 to reflect corrected order information) 

Wednesday’s announcement of a purchase by Delta Air Lines of an additional 15 Airbus A220s boosted the European manufacturer's 2018 gross order count to 831 airplanes, still its lowest total since it finished 2010 with orders for 644 jets. Airbus absorbed 84 cancellations in 2018, including for 22 A350-900s, 16 A380s, and 10 A330neos, resulting in net orders for 747 aircraft. While the number marks major progress on the net orders for 380 airplanes it logged in the first 11 months of 2018, it represents a 33 percent decline from the previous year—Airbus posted net orders for 1,109 airplanes from 44 customers in 2017—and below the net order total for 893 aircraft booked by archival Boeing.

Still, president Airbus Commercial Aircraft Guillaume Faury expressed satisfaction in the company’s “healthy order intake.” Narrowbodies accounted for the bulk of Airbus’s net orders in 2018, as it logged sales of 541 A320-family aircraft and 135 A220s. The airframer also recorded net orders for 40 A350s, four A380s, and 27 A330s—of which 18 were A330neos. At the end of 2018, the backlog of Airbus commercial aircraft reached a new record and stood at 7,577 aircraft, including 480 A220s, compared with 7,265 at the end of 2017.

Airbus set a new a new annual record of shipping 800 commercial aircraft to 93 customers in 2018, though on that count it also lagged behind Boeing, which closed the year with 806 deliveries. The European manufacturer managed to deliver 127 aircraft in December, including 10 aircraft on the last day of the year, allowing it to reach its guidance of 800 aircraft. The target, which Airbus set in early 2018, had excluded the A220 because it had not yet closed the deal to acquire control of the C Series from Bombardier.  Airbus reconfirmed the guidance in October, but only after considering A220 deliverers to compensate for the shortfall of own deliveries due to production and supply chain headaches.

“Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018,” aid Faury. “I salute our teams around the globe who worked until the end of the year to meet our commitments.” Deliveries totaled 11 percent higher than the previous record of 718 units, set in 2017. For the 16th year in a row, Airbus has increased the number of commercial aircraft deliveries on an annual basis.

The 2018 commercial aircraft deliveries consisted of 646 single-aisle aircraft—626 A320 family jets, including 386 neos, and 20 A220s since the former C Series became part of the Airbus product line in July. Twin-aisle deliveries consisted of 49 A330s, including the first three A330neo in 2018, 93 A350s, and 12 A380s. In 2017, Airbus delivered 15 A380s and 67 A330s. Conversely, it increased deliveries of the A320 family jets and A350s compared with 2017 when it shipped 558 and 78 examples, respectively.

Airbus plans to release its full-year 2018 financial results on February 14.