Despite the crisis, Airbus took off again faster than expected in 2021

In 2021, Airbus played on the crisis. With 611 aircraft delivered, or 45 more than in 2020, the European aircraft manufacturer, which exceeded its target of 600 deliveries, is on the way to returning to the level before the Covid-19 pandemic. The world number one in aeronautics confirms its return to form in terms of orders, with 507 firm contracts won. A performance however reduced, because the two giant orders placed by the Australian company Qantas (134 aircraft) and by Air France-KLM (160 aircraft), made in December 2021 but not yet fully finalized, will ultimately be credited to year 2022.

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With its results, Airbus should easily retain its first place ahead of Boeing, far behind, with only 302 deliveries at the end of November 2021. However, the American manufacturer, which has not yet presented its results, could announce an increase in its book orders in 2021.

On the occasion of the presentation of its annual commercial results, Monday January 10, Guillaume Faury, CEO of the European aircraft manufacturer, admitted that he did not think that the year 2021 “Would also be active”. According to him, this renewed activity is the fact “From many airlines, which are already looking after the crisis and seeking to renew and increase their fleets”.

Impatience of customers

Now reassured about its future, Airbus no longer has to deal with other than “problems of the rich”, in particular the vigorous ramp-up of its production rates. Mr. Faury again indicated that he was banking on “Sixty-five medium-haul models of the A320 family” leaving assembly lines from “Summer 2023”. A higher level of production than before the health crisis.

It must be said that the European aircraft manufacturer must push its fires in the face of the impatience of its customers. While before the onset of the pandemic, a company had, on average, to wait five years before starting to take delivery of its order, it seems that the delays are lengthening. To the point that Airbus refused to specify the duration. “It is true that it takes several years if a customer wants to obtain a plane” directly out of Airbus chains, admitted Christian Scherer, its commercial director.

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However, to go faster, airlines can, without delay, turn to aircraft rental companies, which have become the best customers of Airbus and Boeing. Proof of this is that the European group announced on Monday an order for twenty-two A220s placed by the American lessor Azorra. A contract valued, at list price, at 1.25 billion euros.

Success of the A321

The major lesson of 2021 is the affirmation of the predominance of medium-haul on all types of device. Of the 7,082 aircraft in Airbus order books, 6,314 are medium-haul aircraft. In total, the group is assured of more than ten years of production.

On examination, it is the success of the A321, the group’s new bestseller with 3,419 orders alone to date, which boosted its results. A device which, for companies, succeeds in squaring the circle, namely that it offers the performance of a long-haul, but with the costs of a medium-haul. This aircraft is unmatched by Boeing. Weakened by the problems of its 737 MAX, responsible for two air disasters in October 2018 and March 2019, and the years of delays accumulated by its future long-haul 777X, the American pales in comparison to Airbus, with around 2,000 aircraft less in the hold.

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Despite the pressing demands of its customers, Airbus should not however increase its production rates too quickly. In particular those of the A220, its entry-level medium-haul, which is all the rage with a growing number of companies. He will know “A natural evolution”, soberly commented Christian Scherer.