Airbus Pulling Out All Stops to Hit 800-Jet Delivery Target

(Bloomberg) -- With just a few days left before 2018 is over, Airbus SE says it’s working flat out to reach a goal of delivering 800 jetliners during the year.

The Boeing Co. rival is maximizing efforts to meet its target, which requires it to hand over at least 127 aircraft to customers in December. Marketing chief Christian Scherer and his sales team are meanwhile still on the road chasing new orders, according to Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath. “The year isn’t over,” he said by phone Friday.

After falling behind schedule this year amid supplier glitches with jet engines, Airbus gave itself a chance of meeting its main aircraft-related metric with a bumper November tally of 89 planes, 15 more than the previous year. Closing the gap would mean making the same number of December deliveries that it managed in 2017.

Nov.Nov.Oct.Oct.Sept.Sept.YTDYTD
AirbusBoeingAirbusBoeingAirbusBoeingAirbusBoeing
Orders435185183765439792
Shipments897981576987673704

Airbus and Boeing orders and deliveries through November

A fire at Airbus’s Premium Aerotec subsidiary in Augsburg, Germany, isn’t expected to have any impact on jetliner deliveries. Airbus is assessing the situation and will work with the aerostructures manufacturer on mitigation measures if necessary, Schaffrath said.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus scaled back its initial target of delivering 820 planes in 2018 at the time of its third-quarter earnings update, and also plans to include the A220 model recently acquired from Bombardier Inc., boosting its chances of reaching the new goal.

The pressure was further eased when Dubai-based Emirates last month accepted two A380 superjumbos it had initially refused to take in a dispute with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc over the performance of the engines. Handovers of A330 wide-bodies have been held up partly by a cash crunch at Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.

Official order and delivery figures will be released next month.

Beating the delivery goal without relying on the A220 would come as a major boost to Airbus, though may be beyond its reach. The company also seems set to fall short of the 810 to 815 handovers being targeted by Boeing, which is keeping some plants operating through the holidays. That means the U.S. company will likely retain the title of the world’s biggest planemaker.

Read More: Boeing Factories to Remain Open for Year-End Jet Delivery Push

Airbus’s order tally is set to be significantly below last year’s, when the company sold more than 1,100 jetliners following a blockbuster 430-plane deal from airline-investment firm Indigo Partners that was announced on Dec. 28.

As of November the planemaker had won 380 jetliner orders, or 439 excluding cancellations, though the figure will be swollen by a contract from Irish leasing firm Avolon for 100 A320neo-family single-aisle planes revealed on Dec. 7 and worth $11.5 billion at list prices.

That deal was originally announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July, where Airbus unveiled sales of 431 planes valued at $62 billion -- business that it has since mostly struggled to convert into firm orders.

  • The blaze at Premium Aerotec damaged machinery worth at least 10 million euros ($11.4 million) and will disrupt the unit’s own production, according to spokeswoman Barbara Sagel. Options for mitigation include switching some output to other sites at the unit, according to Airbus. Those comprise four other plants in Germany and one in Romania.

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