Airbus trails Boeing in orders heading into Dubai showdown

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Airbus Group is seen on the company's headquarters building in Toulouse, Southwestern France
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Airbus Group is seen on the company's headquarters building in Toulouse, Southwestern France, April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

November 8, 2017

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus <AIR.PA> sold 24 aircraft and delivered 63 in October, leaving it well behind rival Boeing in the hunt for new orders going into next week’s Dubai Airshow, but on course to reach its recently softened target of 700 deliveries for the year.

Data from the European planemaker showed that orders for the year so far had reached 343 aircraft, or 288 when adjusted for cancellations that included new withdrawals of 7 out of 13 orders for A320 jets previously placed by Siberia Airlines.

Airbus is struggling to catch up with Boeing in this year’s order race as Boeing continues to expand under a rejuvenated management and Airbus appears destabilised by probes into the use of middlemen.

Boeing notched up 621 orders between Jan. 1 and Oct. 24, the latest period for which its data is available, or 538 after cancellations. It has 65 percent so far this year of a market usually shared roughly equally with its European rival.

The U.S. planemaker is expected to extend its lead with a significant order announcement from China on Thursday as President Donald Trump visits Beijing, coming on top of an order for 39 wide-body jets from Singapore Airlines last month.

However, analysts said some of the orders may be among the more than 300 from undisclosed buyers posted this year, and that it was not yet understood how much of the anticipated China deal would be entirely new business.

Boeing’s orders also include 28 aircraft for its military division and 5 from collapsed Monarch Airlines, which a UK judge said on Wednesday was unlikely to fly again..

After supplier problems, Airbus deliveries picked up in October when it handed over 63 planes including 22 A320neo-family aircraft recently hit by engine problems, and 8 A350s.

That brings the total to 513 for the first 10 months. Airbus maintains an official target of 700 deliveries, but told analysts last week that its de facto target of 720 aircraft, given verbally to investors, was no longer achievable.

Qatar Airways took delivery in October of three out of four aircraft it had previously canceled over supplier issues.

The largest A350 customer has reduced its order to 76 aircraft but agreed to reshuffle upcoming delivery slots.

This means Airbus will eventually get less revenue than originally planned from the sale of 80 jets to Qatar, but its cashflow will not take a hit as aircraft that have already been built will be delivered, preventing a build-up of inventory.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)