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Airbus deliveries reach monthly high in September but sales stay subdued

Suban Abdulla
·2-min read
So far this year, Airbus has sold 379 planes or a net total of 300 after cancellations. Photo: Getty
So far this year, Airbus has sold 379 planes or a net total of 300 after cancellations. Photo: Getty

Airbus (AIR.PA) reached the highest number of monthly deliveries in September, although order activity remained quiet as COVID-19 continues to hammer the aviation sector.

It delivered 57 jets in September this year, up from 39 in August and exceeding the 55 achieved in February 2020, just before the onset of the airline crisis.

The European planemaker made 341 deliveries over the last nine months including 18 A220s, 282 A320 Family, 9 A330s and 32 A350s. This figure was down 40% from the 571 deliveries the same period last year, with the fall in output triggered by the pandemic.

A significant number of planes were delivered from a parked backlog. Its backlog stands at 7,441 aircraft compared to 7,133 at the same point in 2019.

The only order change registered was the reduction of Macquarie Financial Holdings’ order for 40 A220-300s, which has been revised to 37.

In total, Airbus booked 300 net commercial plane orders compared with 127 net orders compared to the same time period last year.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Future of airline industry in governments' hands

While the company axed guidance at the outset of the coronavirus crisis, industry sources told Reuters that it is targeting 500 deliveries in 2020, having delivered more than three quarters of that “target” already.

In 2019, Airbus delivered a record annual total of 863 jets. So far this year, it has sold 379 planes or a net total of 300 after cancellations.

Airbus trails ahead of US rival Boeing (BA), which sold 67 jets by the end of August and had a negative net total of 378 orders dominated by cancellations for the 737 Max, which has been grounded for 18 months after two crashes.

Boeing delivered 87 aircraft between January and August.

READ MORE: A return to the skies: Boeing 737 Max training review to begin after it completes test flights

COVID-19 has impacted global airlines, reducing demand due to lockdowns grounding planes hitting and hitting balance sheets.

Meanwhile, Boeing cut its rolling 20-year forecast for airplane demand.

While fleets are still expected to almost double, with Boeing chasing some deals to bolster its troubled 737 Max, it is the first time since the 2009 financial crisis the planemaker has cut its 20-year demand forecast in terms of the number of deliveries.

Boeing, which dominates plane orders together with Airbus, forecast 43,110 commercial aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years, down 2% from 44,040 projected in 2019 and worth an unchanged $6.8tn (£5.3tn) at list prices.

Watch: What is a recession?