This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Year-to-date airliner deliveries through the end of May were the worst on record, according to the latest data published by the UK’s ADS industry association. The total backlog stood at 13,779 with 423 orders having been placed since the start of 2020. During May just 9 new aircraft orders (all widebodies) and 16 cancellations were recorded.
According to ADS, 28 aircraft were delivered in May, which represented a 75 percent decrease in deliveries made during May 2019. These included 7 widebodies and 21 single-aisle airliners.
May’s delivery tally was the lowest on record, which was in part due to operators delaying deliveries because they were unwilling or unable to receive the aircraft due to Covid-19-related difficulties. Year-to-date deliveries were also the lowest ever recorded in the first five months of a year at just 220, and only 104 deliveries were made between March and May.
In a statement released on June 29, the trade group predicted that orders are expected to remain low for “months to come” and that there will also be a very slow recovery in aircraft deliveries. It has suspended its delivery forecast for 2020 due to “the volatile nature of marketing conditions during the Covid-19 crisis.”
The backlog as of the end of May only represented a slight decrease on the same period last year. There has been a 9 percent decline in the backlog of widebodies, which now account for just 14 percent of the total. The 423 orders recorded through the end of May were significantly boosted by a high number of aircraft ordered during January before the global pandemic impacted the aviation sector.
The ADS figures include aircraft produced by Airbus and Boeing, as well as by China’s Comac group and Russia’s UAC. The Airbus total now includes the former Bombardier CSeries aircraft, which is now designated the A220. The figures do not include regional airliners, business aircraft, or civil helicopters.
According to ADS, the backlog of orders is worth around £216 billion ($266 billion) to UK aerospace companies. This assumes that UK involvement in the supply chain will remain at the current level and that the aircraft are delivered.
From January to May, a total of 386 orders were canceled, including 358 single-aisle types and 28 widebodies. This resulted in the cancellation of orders for 708 engines. However, the 26,552 engines in the backlog of orders are actually 3 percent higher than at the same time in 2019.
The group’s analysis suggests that orders canceled so far this year do not appear to have been directly related to Covid-19. However, it does seem that the crisis is undermining airlines’ confidence in placing new orders and in their ability to take delivery of aircraft as planned.
ADS repeated its calls for the UK government to do more to support the country’s aerospace sector through measures such as enabling the resumption of flight activity and supporting investment in new technology. The group, which represents around 1,100 member companies, praised the announcement earlier this month by transport secretary Grant Shapps of plans to establish a Jet Zero Council to stimulate advances in carbon-neutral aviation and also new investment in sustainable aviation fuel.
“We are clear on the steps that need to be taken to make sure we can compete internationally for exports and investment,” said ADS chief executive Paul Everitt. “These include investing in developing and building the sustainable aircraft that will help us [the UK] to meet our target of Net Zero [carbon emission] by 2050, maximizing the power of government procurement to deliver high-value jobs in every part of the UK, and ensuring that financial support is in place for supply chain businesses who need it.”