Airbus Targets 530 Jet Handovers for Year in Late Push

Airbus SE is on track to deliver about 530 aircraft this year, according to a person familiar with the matter, after a second-half push to clear jet backlogs eased some of the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

The European planemaker made progress toward meeting the internal target when it reported 64 deliveries for November on Monday. Handovers stand at 477 for 2020 with one month still to be reported, according to an Airbus statement.

The full-year goal represents a drop of almost 40% from 2019’s record pace, though one that could have been worse without a sustained push to increase handovers in recent months. Airbus abandoned its annual forecast for 880 deliveries in March, as the coronavirus began to have a major impact on travel and airline revenue.

Handing over more than 500 aircraft this year would be a “good sign,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson. “The more they deliver, the less cash burn.”

There remains a significant amount of uncertainty in deliveries, Stefan Schaffrath, an Airbus spokesman, said before the November delivery figure was released. He declined to comment on specific numbers or targets.

Focus on Deliveries

Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing Co. have seen demand plummet this year, with renewed outbreaks sinking hopes for a quick return to health for airline customers. With order activity mostly silenced -- an exception being Ryanair Holdings Plc’s purchase last week of 100 Boeing 737 Max jets -- the planemakers have been focused on getting wounded carriers and leasing firms to accept aircraft due this year.

Airbus reported no new orders in November, and had a backlog of 7,302 jets to be delivered at the end of the month. The company saw 11 cancelations in the period, all of which were for its newest A220 model.

Airbus cut production rates across its jetliner programs by about 40% back in April and has been working since to synchronize production and deliveries. It shipped 72 planes in October, with the effort to maintain handovers aided by an e-delivery option allowing companies to delegate some essential checks to the manufacturer.

Reuters reported earlier that the company may hand over as many as 550 aircraft this year.

Boeing, which is just now emerging from a 20-month grounding of its best-selling 737 Max, had delivered 111 aircraft through October. It said last week it would cut production rates on its 787 Dreamliner wide-body next year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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