There are both warning signs and bright spots in the kingdom of Airbus, as the number of net orders falls by a heavy 33%.
Airbus delivered a record 800 aircraft to 93 customers in 2018, which was a new record for the European manufacturer, but the number of net orders fell by as much as 33%.
Its long-time US rival Boeing narrowly beat it, managing to deliver 806 aircraft during the year and receiving 893 new orders, while Airbus received orders for 831 aircraft.
It is the 16th consecutive year that Airbus has set a record number of deliveries, meaning a production increase of almost seven aircraft per month.
But Airbus saw its order book trimmed from 1,109 in 2017 to just 747 in 2018. Cancellations contributed to the trend, for ten A330s, 22 A350 XWBs and 16 A380s.
On the other hand, Airbus saw orders shoot up in recent weeks for the A220, formerly the Bombardier CSeries, to 135 for Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and the future US low-cost airline with the project name Moxy. This week, Delta added a further 15, taking its total to 90 A220s.
Of the total 800 aircraft delivered in 2018, 626 were in the A320 family, of which almost half are of the neo variant. In addition, 20 A220s have been delivered since Airbus took over the program from Canada’s Bombardier in July.
But there were fewer deliveries of long-haul aircraft – 154 against the previous year’s 160.
Of these, 93 A350 XWB planes were delivered against 78 in 2017, while 49 new A330s including the first three A330neos reached customers in 2018 against 67 in 2017.
And of the troubled superjumbo programme, 12 of the giant A380s were delivered as opposed to 15 the previous year.
“Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018,” said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.
“I am equally pleased about the healthy order intake as it shows the underlying strength of the commercial aircraft market and the trust our customers are placing in us. […] As we look to further increase our industrial efficiency, we will continue making the digitalisation of our business a key priority.”
Airbus aircraft are manufactured at factories in Hamburg, Toulouse, Tianjin in China and Mobile in the US. The A220s continue to be assembled in Mirabel, Canada.