The sharp decline in commercial aircraft shipments by Airbus and Boeing in the first nine months of the year has prompted ADS, the UK trade organization representing the aerospace sector, to revise downward its forecast for 2019 deliveries by the world’s two largest airframers for a second time, now to 1,164 units. At the start of the year, it projected a buoyant outlook and had predicted that Airbus and its U.S. counterpart jointly would deliver 1,709 aircraft in 2019—and eclipse the 2018 total of 1,618 aircraft. However, in July it lowered the forecast by 300, to 1,489 shipments, on the back of a dismal first half. Deliveries saw another significant drop—by 37.2 percent—in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, and with just 245 deliveries from July through September, the period accounts for the “lowest third quarter since 2011,” ADS noted in its latest economics briefing, released on Monday. Airbus and Boeing jointly shipped 390 units in the third quarter of 2018. The 2019 third-quarter deliveries consist of a year-on-year 13.6-percent increase in widebody deliveries, from 88 to 100, and a 52-percent fall in single-aisle deliveries, from 302 to 145, mainly owing to the Boeing 737 Max grounding by global airworthiness authorities.
During the first nine months, Airbus and Boeing jointly delivered 873 commercial aircraft to customers, more than 200 behind the pace set last year. With 571 shipments, Airbus accounted for the bulk of the total. According to ADS, the rate of aircraft delivery in the first three quarters of this year was the slowest since 2012 and “the eight consecutive years of record growth from 2011 to 2018 look set to come to an end.”
The association’s new forecast expects an average of 97 aircraft deliveries for the last three months of 2019, because shipments of the Max remain on hold pending FAA approval and operators do not expect deliveries of the type until 2020. For instance, Norwegian last week said it plans for a return to service of its Boeing 737 Max aircraft fleet in late March 2020 “at the earliest.”
Weary of sounding too negative, ADS acknowledged that deliveries made in the first nine months 2019 carried a value of £22 billion to UK industry so far, with 300 widebody aircraft deliveries accounting for 75 percent of the total. Airbus and Boeing shipped 100 widebodies in the third quarter, ranking it “the highest on record for the third quarter” and a “record-breaking” 300 during the first nine months, said ADS.