Airbus under spotlight with race to hit target

Tuesday January 8 2019

 

Chicago. Airbus faces a test of its credibility this week when it reveals whether it met its target to deliver around 800 aircraft last year, as the plane maker races to narrow an orders gap with arch-rival Boeing.

The European group’s factories worked overtime during the Christmas holidays to make up for delays because of supplier issues.

Guillaume Faury, head of Airbus’s commercial arm, had made sorting out the company’s supply chain a key focus.

Mr Faury, who takes the helm from chief executive Tom Enders in April, is understood to have launched a review looking at Airbus’s ways of working, industry executives with knowledge of the move confirmed.

The group said in October that it would deliver about 20 fewer aircraft but still hoped to meet its target by including 18 A220 jets, the model acquired through its purchase of the Bombardier C series. Deliveries are watched by investors as a key indicator for cash flow.

Airbus had delivered 673 aircraft to the end of November, leaving it 127 jets short of its target.

Analysts at Vertical Research Partners are forecasting 797 deliveries for 2018. Industry sources pointed out that Airbus was in a similar position in 2017 but still managed to close that year with a record 718 deliveries. A spokesman declined to comment on the final tally, which will be announced on Friday, but said “the Airbus team worked flat out until the very last hours of December 31”.

Boeing, which will unveil its numbers on Tuesday, had been targeting between 810 and 815 deliveries in 2018, up from 763 in 2017. It had delivered 704 planes by the end of November.

In terms of the annual orders race, Boeing was far ahead of its European rival by the end of November with 690 net firm orders, fuelling speculation that it would break Airbus’s five-year winning streak. (Agencies)

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