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Airbus Pulling Out All Stops to Reach 800-Plane Delivery Target

Dec. 28, 2018
The company seems set to fall short of the 810 to 815 handovers being targeted by Boeing, which is keeping some plants operating through the holidays.

With just a few days left before the year is over, Airbus SE says it’s working flat out to reach a goal of delivering 800 jetliners during 2018.

The Boeing Co. rival is maximizing efforts to meet its target, which requires it to hand over at least 127 aircraft to customers in December. Marketing chief Christian Scherer and his sales team are meanwhile still on the road chasing new orders, according to Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath. "The year isn’t over," he said by phone Friday.

After falling behind on schedule this year amid supplier glitches with jet engines, Airbus gave itself a chance of meeting its main aircraft-related metric with a bumper November tally of 89 planes, 15 more than the previous year. Closing the gap would mean making the same number of December deliveries that it managed in 2017.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus scaled back its initial target of delivering 820 planes in 2018 at the time of its third-quarter earnings update, and also plans to include the A220 model recently acquired from Bombardier Inc., boosting its chances of reaching the new goal.

The pressure was further eased when Dubai-based Emirates last month accepted two A380 superjumbos it had initially refused to take in a dispute with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc over the performance of the engines. Handovers of A330 wide-bodies have been held up partly by a cash crunch at Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.

Official order and delivery figures will be released next month.

Beating the delivery goal without relying on the A220 would come as a major boost to Airbus, though may be beyond its reach. The company also seems set to fall short of the 810 to 815 handovers being targeted by Boeing, which is keeping some plants operating through the holidays. That means the U.S. company will likely retain the title of the world’s biggest planemaker.

Airbus’s order tally is set to be significantly below last year’s, when the company sold more than 1,100 jetliners following a blockbuster 430-plane deal from airline-investment firm Indigo Partners that was announced on Dec. 28.

As of November, the planemaker had won 380 jetliner orders, or 439 excluding cancellations, though the figure will be swollen by a contract from Irish leasing firm Avolon for 100 A320neo-family single-aisle planes revealed on Dec. 7 and worth $11.5 billion at list prices.

That deal was originally announced at the Farnborough Air Show in July, where Airbus unveiled sales of 431 planes valued at $62 billion -- business that it has since mostly struggled to convert into firm orders.

By Christopher Jasper

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