Airbus Struggling to Meet 2015 Delivery Goal as A350 Lags Target

  • Company is 74 jets short after handing over 556 as of Nov. 30
  • Wide-body airliner introduced in 2014 is among models affected

Airbus Group SE may struggle to meet its goal of delivering more jetliners this year than it did in 2014, after the shipment of 556 planes through November left it needing to hand over at least 74 this month.

The European planemaker must accelerate output by 24 aircraft, or almost 50 percent, in December compared with the average for the first 11 months in order to meet the target set last January, according to calculations based on delivery and order numbers released Monday.

Airbus’s latest A350 model, which had its first handover in December 2014, achieved only 10 deliveries in the 11 months plus one more last week, leaving it four short of the manufacturer’s full-year target. Spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said the Toulouse, France-based company is still aiming to hand over 15 A350s this year and that employees are focused on meeting targets.

While the fourth quarter tends to be heaviest for deliveries, it’s unusual to have so many planes outstanding by the first week of December, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. Christmas holidays will also begin to eat into production capacity later in the month.

Interiors Issue

“Part of the problem may be the completion of interiors, especially on the seat front,” Aboulafia said.

Zodiac Aerospace of France fell 6,000 seats behind schedule at the peak of delays, and Fabrice Bregier, who heads Airbus’s planemaking unit, said in October that suppliers are struggling to cope with a production ramp-up on the A350 that’s slated to see 30 planes built in 2016.

On the order front, Airbus has already beaten its goal of racking up deals for more new planes in 2015 than the 630 it had anticipated handing over, with agreements in place to supply a net 1,007 aircraft as of the end Nov. 30.

That’s also opened up a wide lead over Boeing, which had attracted 568 new orders, net of cancellations, as of Dec. 2. The U.S. company delivered 709 aircraft through the end of November, so is set to retain its title of No. 1 planemaker.

The A350 has suffered a negative order count after 19 cancellations, 12 from Tap Air Portugal, which swapped its order for 14 smaller A330neos, and seven from Singapore Airlines Ltd., which freed up slots for an undisclosed customer, according to Airbus. With 15 new orders, the backlog fell slightly to 775 planes, still enough to sustain production through 2022.

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