Both companies report strong order intake in July. Boeing resumes 787 deliveries.
by J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent, Forecast International.
Boeing and Airbus delivered 26 and 46 commercial jets in July 2022, compared to 28 and 47 deliveries, respectively, in the same month last year. Year-to-date, Boeing and Airbus have delivered 242 and 341 aircraft, compared to 184 and 344, respectively, in the first seven months of 2021. So far this year, Boeing is 58 deliveries ahead and Airbus is three deliveries behind last year’s totals.
Following a more than challenging 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was a year of recovery for the two largest commercial plane makers. 2022 is well underway to be another year of recovery for the commercial aircraft manufacturing industry, despite supply chain challenges and events currently unfolding in Ukraine. Boeing and Airbus still have a long way to go before deliveries are back to pre-pandemic levels, though.
For the full year 2021, Boeing delivered 340 aircraft, compared to 157 in 2020 and 380 in 2019. Boeing’s last “normal” year was 2018 – before COVID-19 and the 737 MAX grounding – when it delivered 806 jets, a level that will likely not be recaptured before 2024 or 2025. The past three years have been extremely challenging for Boeing but, despite Dreamliner quality issues and 777X delays, the outlook is bright. The 737 MAX is approved to fly in nearly every country, and since late 2020 the fleet has flown more than one million flight hours. The aircraft, however, has not yet returned to commercial service in China despite the fact that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ungrounded the 737 MAX in December of last year.
In 2021, Airbus delivered 611 aircraft and won the deliveries crown for the third year in a row. Deliveries were up from 566 in 2020 but remain well below the company’s all-time record high of 863 shipments in 2019. Airbus is expected to retain the deliveries lead for the foreseeable future due to the company’s comfortable backlog lead over its American rival. Prior to 2019, Boeing had out-delivered Airbus every year since 2012.
As indicated above, in July 2022, Boeing delivered 26 jets, including 23 737s (all MAX), two 767s, and one 777. As of June of this year, the 737 program was producing aircraft at an official rate of 31 per month, up from 27. The rate of 27 per month was maintained between November 2021 and May 2022 and, prior to that, the monthly rate was just 19. Recently, The Seattle Times reported that delays in the supply of parts had resulted in a slowdown in 737 MAX production. Despite the rate increase and strong 737 MAX deliveries in June in general, supply chain issues are likely to persist for the time being. Boeing had been considering a boost in 737 production to 38 jets per month in the first half of 2023, followed by another increase to 47 jets per month by the end of 2023, but these plans have now been postponed. In connection with the release of Boeing’s second quarter 2022 earnings, President and CEO David Calhoun commented, “But I do believe we’re at a state now where at 31, we are comfortable the industry can get there and maybe has already gotten there, and then we are going to watch as they qualify more capacity going forward before we pull those rates up.”
On August 10, deliveries of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner were resumed following a suspension of shipments that lasted nearly 16 months. The aircraft was delivered to American Airlines, which received its first Dreamliner since April 2021. Boeing suspended Dreamliner deliveries in May 2021 for the second time in less than a year. The current 787 production rate is approximately two aircraft per month, and Boeing expects to continue at this rate for now but will likely return to five per month over time. In March of this year it was reported that the company was testing the ability of suppliers to meet output scenarios as high as seven per month by the end of 2023. Boeing has approximately 120 787s currently awaiting delivery. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stated that it will inspect each aircraft before issuing airworthiness certificates.
The 777 program was expected to get a new addition in late 2023 with the first delivery of the 777X, but in April Boeing announced this will now not happen before 2025. This reflects an updated assessment of the time required to meet certification requirements. According to Boeing, the 777-9 production rate ramp-up is being adjusted to minimize inventory and the number of planes requiring “change incorporation,” including a temporary pause through 2023. However, Boeing is taking advantage of the adjustment to the 777-9 production schedule by adding 777 freighter capacity starting in late 2023. In January of this year, Boeing launched a new 777X-based freighter, thereby expanding its 777X and cargo portfolio. Qatar Airways will be the 777-8F launch customer.
In July 2022, Airbus delivered 46 jets, including five A220s, 35 A320s (all NEO), one A330, and five A350s. During 2021, Airbus steadily increased A320 production from 40 per month to 43 in Q3 2021 before finishing the year at a rate of 45 per month. Production will continue to be increased until reaching a monthly rate of 65 by early 2024 (recently pushed back from mid-2023 due to supply chain challenges). Also, Airbus is working with its supply chain to increase the A320 production rate to 75 aircraft per month in 2025. The A321XLR successfully accomplished its first flight on June 15, 2022. Entry into service, initially planned for the end of 2023, is now expected to take place in early 2024.
The A220, meanwhile, is being produced at a rate of six aircraft per month, up from five at the beginning of the year – with a monthly production rate of 14 envisioned by the middle of the decade. The A350 production rate currently averages five per month and was expected to be increased to six by early 2023. However, the rate increase may be delayed until the end of 2023 due to sanctions on Russia and a legal fight between Airbus and Qatar Airways over A350 paint/surface issues. Airbus is currently producing two A330s per month, a rate that is expected to be increased to nearly three aircraft by the end of 2022.
In 2021, Airbus launched the A350 freighter, or A350F, which is a major and much-needed boost to the company’s competitiveness in the cargo segment. Boeing has long dominated the cargo space with its 737-800BCF, 767-300BCF, 767-300F, 777F, 777-8F and 747-8F offerings. Until now, Airbus has only offered the A330-200F, which has not performed well in competition against Boeing’s popular 767-300F. With the launch of the A350F, it appears Airbus is getting serious about capturing more of the cargo aircraft market. The A350F, which carries up to 120 tons (109 metric tons) of cargo, received its first order in November of last year and will predominantly compete with the 777F and later the 777X freighter. In comparison, the 777F has a cargo capacity of up to 112 tons (102 metric tons). To date, the A350F has accumulated 31 net new orders.
Turning to the July orders review, both companies had a strong month thanks to Farnborough International Airshow 2022 – Airbus in particular. Boeing booked orders from five customers for a total of 130 jets. However, the company also reported four cancellations (one 737 MAX and three 787s), resulting in 126 net new orders in total. The largest order was placed by Delta Air Lines and included 100 737-10s (the 737-10 is the largest 737 MAX variant), with options for 30 more jets. Also, Qatar Airways ordered 25 737-10s, followed by smaller orders from Air Canada (two 777Fs), FedEx (one 777F), and American Airlines (two 737 MAXs). Year to date, Boeing has accumulated 312 net new orders (416 gross orders). In 2021, Boeing booked 909 gross orders and received 430 cancellations, for a total of 479 net new orders (before ASC 606 changes). Please note that for comparison reasons, we do not include the so-called ASC 606 accounting adjustments in the numbers reported in this article and regard net new orders as gross orders minus cancellations.
In July, Airbus booked orders from 12 customers for a total of 401 jets and reported four cancellations, resulting in a whopping 397 net new orders. The largest orders were placed by three state-owned Chinese air carriers for a total of 292 A320neos. Air China, including its subsidiary Shenzhen Airlines, ordered 96 A320neo family jets split between 64 A321neos, 27 A320neos and 5 A319neos. China Southern Airlines also booked 96 A320neo family jets (64 A321neos, 23 A320neos and 9 A319neos), while China Eastern Airlines ordered 100 A320neo family jets, including 68 A321neos and 32 A320neos. The Chinese orders had earlier been announced by Airbus on July 1, but looking at the dates in the chart above, they were not firmed up until or shortly after Farnborough. Another major order for Airbus, for 56 A320neos, came from U.K.-based low-cost carrier EasyJet. The remaining July orders include LATAM Airlines Group’s order for 17 A321neos and Delta Air Lines’ order for 12 A220-300s. Surprisingly, Airbus did not use the large Chinese orders to make a huge splash at Farnborough. If the orders had been announced in connection with the air show, Airbus would have come out as the clear winner. Instead, Boeing took the Farnborough 2022 orders crown.
Year to date, Airbus has accumulated 656 net new orders (843 gross orders) and has now surpassed both 2021 gross orders and net new orders. In 2021, Airbus booked a total of 771 gross orders and received 264 cancellations, for a total of 507 net new orders – enough to win the orders crown for the third year in a row. It should be noted, however, that if Boeing’s 2021 ASC 606 adjustments were included, Boeing would have come out ahead with 535 net new orders.
At the end of July 2022, Airbus reported a backlog of 7,397 jets, of which 6,376, or 91 percent, were A220 and A320ceo/neo family narrowbodies. This is 328 aircraft below the company’s all-time backlog record of 7,725 aircraft set in January 2020. By the end of July, Boeing’s backlog (total unfilled orders before ASC 606 adjustment) was 5,206 aircraft, of which 4,204, or 81 percent, were 737 NG/MAX narrowbody jets. Boeing’s all-time backlog high of 5,964 aircraft was set in August 2018. The number of Airbus aircraft to be built and delivered represents 8.6 years of shipments at the 2019 production level (the pre-pandemic level), or 12.1 years based on the 2021 total. In comparison, Boeing’s backlog would “only” last 6.5 years at the 2018 level (the most recent “normal” year for Boeing), or 15.3 years based on 2021 deliveries. In 2022 to date, Boeing’s book-to-bill ratio, calculated as net new orders divided by deliveries, is 1.29. Airbus’ book-to-bill ratio is now a very solid 1.92. In 2021, Boeing’s book-to-bill ratio was 1.41, while Airbus reported a book-to-bill of 0.81.
Forecast International’s Platinum Forecast System is a breakthrough in forecasting technology that provides 15-year production forecasts. The author has used the Platinum Forecast System to retrieve the latest delivery forecast data from the Civil Aircraft Forecast product. For 2022, Forecast International’s analysts currently expect Boeing and Airbus to deliver 447 and 666 commercial jets, respectively. Compared to the 2021 level, this is a 31.5 percent increase for Boeing and a 9.0 percent increase for Airbus.
Boeing released second quarter 2022 results on July 27 and expects to finish the year with 737 MAX deliveries in the low 400s. Airbus released Q2 2022 earnings on July 27 and lowered its 2022 guidance from 720 deliveries to 700 . As the basis for its 2022 guidance, the company assumes no further disruptions to the world economy, air traffic, and its own internal operations.
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