A record year for Airbus, a tough call for African carriers

In Summary

Michael Wakabi An unprecedented sales and delivery year for European airframer Airbus, testifies to the strong […]

Michael Wakabi

An unprecedented sales and delivery year for European airframer Airbus, testifies to the strong post-pandemic market rebound and the intense efforts by airlines to move to more fuel-efficient aircraft, as the carbon transition beckons.

Airbus reported delivery of some 735 commercial aircraft during 2023, and logging a 2,319 gross orders during the year. Net orders came to 2,094 after cancelations. The orderbook, reflecting 11pc growth over 2022, included 1,835 A320 family and 300 A350 family aircraft. The backlog stands at 8,598 aircraft representing 11.6 years of production at the rate achieved last year.

The deliveries were spread across 87 customers around the world, led by the A320 family at 571 aircraft. The A220 logged 68 deliveries, followed by the A350 at 64 and the A330 with 32 deliveries.

“2023 was a landmark year for Airbus’ Commercial Aircraft business with exceptional sales and deliveries on the upper end of our target,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury adding; “a number of factors came together to help us achieve our goals, including the increased flexibility and capability of our global industrial system, as well as the strong demand from airlines to refresh their fleets with our most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft.”

Newly appointed CEO, Commercial Aircraft, Christian Scherer said while the airframer had originally anticipated aviation to recover around the 2023-2025 timeframe, the single-aisle and widebody markets rebounded faster than expected. In its latest market report, IATA says global passenger traffic in November 2023, was trending at 99pc of 2019 levels.

Airbus registered 300 orders for its flagship A350, the largest order intake for the type in a single year in the programs history.

“A big thumbs up to our commercial and regional teams, and importantly, a big thank you to our customers for their trust and partnership. We have never sold as many A320s or A350s in any given year, not to mention welcoming seven new customers for the A350-1000. Travel is back and there is serious momentum!”

A bumper year for Airbus, a tall order for dithering African carriers

The bumper year means two things for small airline customers – diminishing bargaining power and longer delivery times. With slots booked out and demand for the A320 family hot, leasing might be the only way of addressing capacity gaps at potentially higher lease rates. Airbus was engaged in a number of African sales campaigns during the year. In a couple of cases, potential deals stalled over pricing with an ebullient Airbus holding its ground.

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