Deliveries slow as Boeing secures major American Airlines Dreamliner order
by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent.
Boeing and Airbus delivered 44 and 51 commercial jets in April 2018, respectively, compared to 52 and 46 deliveries during the same month last year. April is traditionally a slow month for deliveries. In 2017, Boeing delivered 763 jets (748 in 2016), in line with company expectations, while Airbus surpassed its delivery target of 700 jets by handing over 718 aircraft during 2017 (688 in 2016).
In April 2018, Boeing delivered 34 737s (of which 10 were 737 MAXs), well below the current monthly rate of 47 jets. The company also delivered one 767, one 777, and eight 787s. Boeing raised its 737 production rate to 47 per month in Q3 2017 from 42 previously and will increase it further to 52 during 2018. Boeing plans a further increase to 57 737s per month next year. Boeing delivered 228 aircraft in the first four months of the year and is seven jets ahead of last year’s delivery figures. In April 2018, Airbus delivered 36 A320s (19 ceo / 17 neo), four A330s, eight A350s, and three A380s. Airbus delivered 172 aircraft in the first four months of the year and is trailing last year’s delivery figures by 10 jets.
Airbus continues to struggle with late deliveries of engines from Pratt & Whitney and CFM International for the A320neo family of aircraft. Despite the difficulties, Airbus confirmed its full-year outlook when it reported first quarter 2018 financial results in April. Airbus’ CEO, Tom Enders, stated that dozens of A320neo aircraft are sitting on the tarmac in Toulouse and Hamburg awaiting their engines. A total of 181 A320neo family aircraft were delivered in 2017 vs. Airbus’ forecast of 200, up from 68 during 2016. By mid-2019, Airbus expects to be delivering 60 A320 jets per month. In December 2017, former Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier even indicated that there is enough demand for Airbus to be producing as many as 70 A320 jets per month. The company has internally been debating rates beyond 60 for some time now. Airbus plans to deliver up to 120 A350s (all variants) in 2018, when the production rate will hit 10 per month. Airbus is considering a further increase to 13 A350s per month in 2019. On February 20, 2018, Airbus delivered the world’s first A350-1000 widebody airliner to launch customer Qatar Airways. Furthermore, on February 28, Airbus rolled out the first A350-900 Ultra Long Range variant. The ramp up of A350 XWB deliveries combined with a higher A320 production rate means that the company is narrowing Boeing’s deliveries lead and could surpass its top rival by 2019 or 2020.
In April 2018, Boeing announced that it plans to increase its 767 production rate from 2.5 jets per month to 3 jets per month beginning in 2020. This is due to strong air cargo growth, which has increased demand for Boeing’s 767-300F variant.
In April 2018, Boeing logged 78 gross orders (minus 31 cancellations => net of 47). Boeing’s April bookings included an order for 30 737 MAX jets for Russia’s UTair Aviation as well as two large 787 Dreamliner orders, including orders for 25 787-9 jets for American Airlines and 22 787-8 jets for Boeing Capital Corporation (BCC), which is Boeing’s leasing business. The 22 BCC 787-8 jets are earmarked for American Airlines. On April 6, American Airlines announced it had canceled an old US Airways order for 22 Airbus A350-900 jets and instead ordered 47 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Airbus’ April bookings totaled 68 gross orders (minus 27 cancellations => net of 41). Airbus booked two orders from Scandinavian Airlines (SAS): one for 35 A320neos and another for a single A330-300. SAS also plans to lease 15 additional A320neos. Airbus also booked a rare order for its smallest narrowbody variant, the A319, when, on April 20, an undisclosed customer ordered 22 A319neos and five A319ceos. Despite being well behind Boeing in this year’s orders race, Airbus has retained an order lead over its rival every year since 2012. In 2017, just as Boeing looked set to win the orders race, Airbus finished the year on a very high note and reported a full- year intake of 1,109 net new orders, ahead of Boeing’s 912.
Airbus’ order backlog as of April 30 stands at 7,179 jets (of which 6,109, or 85%, are A320ceo/neo family narrowbodies), ahead of Boeing’s backlog of 5,904 aircraft (of which 4,673, or 79%, are 737 NG/MAX narrowbody jets). Boeing’s backlog set a new all-time high in April, surpassing the previous record of 5,901 jets set last month. Airbus is 85 jets below its all-time record backlog of 7,265 set in December 2017. The number of Airbus aircraft to be built and delivered represents a 10-year backlog at the 2017 production level. In comparison, Boeing’s backlog would “only” last 7.7 years. Airbus booked 1,109 net new orders in 2017, resulting in a book-to-bill ratio of 1.54. Boeing booked 912 net new orders in 2017, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.20. In 2018 to date, Boeing boasts a book-to-bill ratio of 1.18 (1.20 in March), with Airbus at 0.50 (0.37 in March).
Forecast International’s Platinum Forecast System® is a breakthrough in forecasting technology. Among many other features, Platinum provides 15-year production forecasts. The author has used the Platinum Forecast System to retrieve the latest delivery forecasts. For 2018, Forecast International’s analysts expect Boeing and Airbus to deliver 801 and 775 large commercial jets, respectively. These are the latest “live” forecast figures (adjusted frequently by FI analysts as new information comes in). These figures exclude militarized variants of commercial platforms such as Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, KC-46 Tanker and C-40 Clipper and Airbus’ A330 MRTT tanker program.
In late January 2018, Boeing reported that it expects to deliver 810-815 commercial aircraft during 2018 (including militarized variants of commercial jets). On February 15, 2018, Airbus announced that it expects to deliver around 800 commercial jets this year (including militarized variants of commercial jets), but at the same time emphasized that it depends on engine manufacturers meeting commitments.
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