Boeing deliveries on track to meet full-year target as Airbus’ struggles continue
by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.
Boeing and Airbus delivered 68 and 51 commercial jets in May 2018, respectively, compared to 56 and 60 deliveries during the same month last year. May is traditionally an average month for deliveries. For Airbus, it was another disappointing month dogged by insufficient engine deliveries as suppliers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric struggle to keep up with demand. 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 May 2018, Boeing delivered 47 737s (of which 19 were 737 MAXs), the same as the current monthly production rate of 47 jets. The company also delivered two 767s, six 777s, and 13 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 has delivered 296 aircraft in the first five months of the year and is 19 jets ahead of last year’s delivery figures. In May 2018, Airbus delivered 41 A320s (19 ceo / 22 neo), three A330s, and seven A350s. Airbus has delivered 223 aircraft in the first five months of the year and is trailing last year’s delivery figures by 19 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 CEO 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. Airbus plans to deliver up to 120 A350s (all variants) in 2018, when the production rate hits 10 per month. Airbus is considering a further increase up to 13 A350s per month in 2019. 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 May 2018, Boeing logged 43 gross orders (minus five cancellations => net of 38). Boeing’s May bookings included an order for 14 737 MAX jets for an undisclosed customer as well as several 787 Dreamliner orders, including an order for six 787-9s for Qantas.
Airbus’ May bookings totaled 25 gross orders (no cancellations => net of 25). Leading the sales activity in the month was a transaction for 15 A350-900s from an undisclosed customer. A single A330-200 was ordered for conversion into the multirole tanker transport (MRTT) version by Airbus Defence and Space for a military customer. Further, Lufthansa placed an order for six A320neos and three A320ceos. Despite being well behind Boeing in this year’s orders race, Airbus has retained an orders 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 May 31, 2018 stands at 7,153 jets (of which 6,077, or 85%, are A320ceo/neo family narrowbodies), ahead of Boeing’s backlog of 5,874 aircraft (of which 4,648, 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 in March. By the end of May, Boeing was 27 jets below its April order book record. Airbus is 112 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. As indicated above, 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 1.03 (1.18 in March), with Airbus at 0.50 (unchanged from last month).
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.
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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