Airbus Nears 550 Deliveries in Year Derailed by Covid-19

Airbus SE has handed over close to 550 aircraft in 2020, with three days left to pad its total in a year derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter.

The European planemaker is nearing the milestone after tallying 477 deliveries through November, the people said, asking not to be named citing confidential information. The figures are unaudited and will be finalized after the end of the year.

Airbus remains comfortably ahead of Boeing Co., though neither is anywhere near where it expected to be when the year started. The Toulouse, France-based planemaker delivered a record 863 planes last year, before the health crisis crushed the balance sheets of airline and leasing-firm customers. Manufacturers have been scrambling since then to preserve orders and shuffle delivery schedules.

Airbus Nears 550 Deliveries in Year Derailed by Covid-19

Airbus shares were up 1.3% as of 3:43 p.m. in Paris. Chicago-based Boeing, which has resumed 737 Max deliveries after a 20-month grounding, was up 2.5% in New York.

Delivery Push

In a sustained push to increase handovers in recent months, Airbus has used incentives such as an e-delivery option that allows customers to delegate some essential checks to the manufacturer that are made harder by travel restrictions.

The planemaker, based in Toulouse, France, abandoned its annual forecast for 880 deliveries back in March, as the coronavirus began to wreak havoc on the plans of airlines.

Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined to comment on the figures, saying that the company would issue a final total once they were audited. He added that the planemaker is still pushing to make deliveries to customers.

Airbus is set to retain its title of world’s largest planemaker for a second year. Still, 550 deliveries would represent a drop of about 36% from 2019.

Boeing had managed to hand over only 118 aircraft by the end of November. The pace for the Max, its best-selling jetliner, is likely to speed up in coming months with Max model’s ungrounding. However, the company also had to slow deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner to address production defects.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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