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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Airbus to fall just short of 800-plane delivery goal

Shares of the planemaker dropped as much as 7.9% before closing at €81.21

Airbus A220-300 parked on the tarmac at the Airbus delivery centre in Colomiers, southwestern France. AFP
Airbus A220-300 parked on the tarmac at the Airbus delivery centre in Colomiers, southwestern France. AFP

Airbus narrowly missed its reduced target for aircraft deliveries last year even after the company’s factories operated until the last minutes of December 31 to complete remaining jetliners.

Handovers topped 790 but failed to reach the goal of about 800, a source told Bloomberg, who asked not to be identified when discussing confidential figures.

Getting close to the target still represents a victory of sorts for the incoming chief executive Guillaume Faury, the commercial aircraft chief who made a mission of coping with production challenges after a year of harrowing setbacks. Airbus delivered more than a quarter of its annual output in the final two months, after persistent engine issues at the start of the year had led to a halt in handovers and scores of parked planes.

Toulouse-based Airbus declined to comment.

The group is scheduled to release official numbers on January 11. If confirmed, the delivery figures also mean Airbus fell short of the 810 to 815 handovers targeted by arch-rival Boeing, which also kept some plants operating through the holidays.

Airbus had initially aimed to deliver close to 820 planes in 2018, including the C Series model acquired in the summer from Bombardier and renamed the A220. It cut that target in October amid production headaches at engine makers and needed to hand over 127 aircraft in December to meet the more modest goal, matching a record monthly tally from a year earlier.

Shares of the planemaker dropped as much as 7.9 per cent in Paris before closing down 3.5 per cent at €81.21. The stock was little changed in 2018 as Airbus struggled to lift delivery rates to fulfil a record order backlog. Boeing gained about 9 per cent in 2018.

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Airbus fell behind the planned delivery curve early in 2018 as engine issues afflicted its top-selling A320neo single-aisle jet, with a factory in Hamburg also struggling to keep up with demand for the long-range A321 variant. The group finally cut its forecast amid slow turbine production for the A330neo wide-body at Rolls-Royce Holdings.

Airbus said on Thursday it had firmed up critical orders for the A220 from US discounter JetBlue Airways and its founder David Neeleman’s new airline Moxy, which were originally announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July.

The deals, for 120 aircraft in total, were finalised in December, according to the planemaker, allowing them to be counted against 2018’s order tally.

Updated: January 4, 2019 02:47 PM

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