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Airbus fails to net an aircraft order for third straight month

Airbus fails to net an aircraft order for third straight month

Paris: Airbus failed to secure any aircraft orders for a third month this year, as the collapse in global air travel battered demand for new jetliners.

The manufacturer suffered one cancellation, bringing total net orders to 298 aircraft so far this year. The tally marks a worsening of the order crunch for Airbus, which has been working to avoid losing business by agreeing to defer deliveries as airlines seek to rein in capacity in anticipation of years of sluggish demand.

The company handed over 36 aircraft in the month, an improvement on May's 24 deliveries.

Boeing has also suffered far more pain overall, with 602 orders lost through May as the grounding of the Max for more than a year allows buyers to walk away without incurring penalties. Boeing's best-selling jet was banned from the skies in March 2019 after two deadly crashes.

Airbus last week announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs at its jetliner arm after lowering build rates by one-third in April amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shares of the company have slumped 50 per cent this year.

Not going ahead

Aircraft lessor Avolon Holdings Ltd. said it had scrapped a commitment for one A330neo due in 2022, as well as pushing back the arrival of three A320neo-series narrow-bodies. Boeing Co. took a bigger hit, with Avolon exiting contracts for 27 737 Max planes on top of 75 earlier cancellations.

Airbus's handovers of new jets have been sustained by the adoption of a process that delegates some pre-delivery checks to the manufacturer's own engineers, overcoming issues with travel curbs.

Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa says Airbus may deliver 603 aircraft this year, falling to 355 in 2021 and 416 in 2022 as the impact of deferrals kicks in. That in turn may force further cuts of around 30 per cent of production, he estimates.

With the company continuing to make planes faster than customers accept them, inventory may have increased by some 4.5 billion euros in the second quarter, estimated Sandy Morris, an analyst at Jefferies. He called this a "balancing act", and said it may not satisfy investors looking at cashflows and earnings measures.

"We believe Airbus is questing for a level of production that is optimal for the next 24 months or so," Morris said in a note. "Inventory could rise again in third-quarter 2020, but it will unwind over time."