Airbus Delivery Goal at Risk as Virus Prompts Airline Deferrals

(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE’s target for record jetliner deliveries this year may be at risk as virus-shocked customers postpone taking new planes, according to people familiar with the matter.

Some Chinese airlines have deferred deliveries through April, the people said, asking not to be named discussing private information, while Malaysia’s AirAsia X has already said it will pare handovers.

Airbus is tracking carriers’ willingness to take jets and may decide whether to lower the 2020 target from about 880 deliveries as soon as next month, one of the people said. A spokesman declined to comment on individual customers but said Airbus is closely monitoring the situation and its impact on clients and the supply chain.

A cut in annual targets at Airbus or U.S. rival Boeing Co. would represent the next level of pain for the aviation industry, which has been walloped by a rapid slowdown in air travel. Airbus is considering paring back output of its A330neo wide-body, Bloomberg News reported this month. Airline shares have plunged as carriers including Deutsche Lufthansa AG cut capacity on falling demand.

The travel slump together with restrictions on movements aimed at limiting the spread of the virus have led customers to defer taking possession of jets, the people said. Airbus saw no orders in February, though handed over 55 planes; its March figures could show a more significant impact, one of the people said.

Chinese airlines have postponed deliveries from Airbus factories in Germany and France, the people said, citing a travel ban and complicated quarantine procedures.

The decision by AirAsia X, the biggest customer for the A330neo, to defer deliveries in February led Toulouse, France-based Airbus to weigh a cutback in the output rate for the wide-body, people familiar with the matter have said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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