Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Airbus retains its crown as the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer for the third year in a row over rival Boeing after defeating its target of delivering 600 aircraft by 2021, even though it was a warning letter about the rise of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The European aviation champion said it delivered 611 revenue-generating aircraft last year, an increase of 8 percent over 2020. More than two-thirds of its deliveries were for its popular A320 family of single-track radiators, is mostly used on short- and medium-haul flights where air travel picks up faster than on long-haul flights.

The company has doubled its gross order intake, which excludes cancellations, over the past 12 months with 771 new sales. It received 507 net orders. It ended the year with a backlog of 7,082 aircraft in order.

The result underscores the advantage that Airbus Boeing has taken over in terms of deliveries. The US company, which is due to report its figures on Tuesday, delivered 302 aircraft by the end of November. However, it looks like Boeing will win the race for orders, after securing 829 gross sales at the end of November.

Guillaume Faury, Airbus’ chief executive, said the company’s strong performance indicated that airlines were confident about the growth of air travel following the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he warned that the company and its suppliers were closely monitoring the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus, although so far it had not led to any significant disruptions. Airbus has an assembly plant in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin that has tightened exit controls to help block the spread of the highly transmissible variant.

“Omicron has the potential to have a significant impact. “At the moment we do not see any disruptions or risks that will affect us at a later stage,” said Faury.

Airbus, he added, is sticking to its plans to increase production of its A320 family of jets, with a target of 65 aircraft per month by the summer of 2023. Some suppliers and engine manufacturers have expressed concern about the company’s more aggressive proposal for tariffs from 2025.

Faury said the company is in a “rather complex situation with the supply chain”, citing challenges including raw material supply, logistics and staff availability.

“2022 will be an interesting year [but] we continue to believe that we are on track to achieve our ramp plans, ”he added.

Sash Tusa, an analyst at Agency Partners, said Airbus had “realistic, high enough orders to reach a rate of 65”.

“The supply chain is fragile this year, but if they can get through the first quarter, I think Airbus has customers to deliver 65 aircraft.”

Robert Stallard, at Vertical Research Partners, said he expects continued tensions on the supply chain in 2022 and beyond, as both Airbus and Boeing “increase their cargo rates at a pace that is fairly fast for the aviation industry”.

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