© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Airbus A330neo to appear during the inauguration of the 53rd Paris International Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier / Pool
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus lost a fifth of unfulfilled orders for its long-haul A330neo in March as the largest aircraft buyer went through restructuring but won sales elsewhere for more than 100 of its smaller aircraft, monthly data showed on Friday.
AirAsia X has canceled 63 versions of the A330-900 A330neo, an upgrade of the long-established wide-body model A330, as well as 10 smaller A321neo aircraft, Airbus said.
The European aircraft manufacturer also said it shipped 142 aircraft in the first quarter, up 13% from the same period last year.
But the net number of deliveries was 140 after two were canceled for Aeroflot due to sanctions against Russia.
Airbus counted two A350 deliveries for Aeroflot at the end of the year in December as part of its predictions of surpassing annual deliveries, but the planes did not fly to Russia. Airbus also canceled a related order from Aeroflot, the data show.
“Airbus could be looking for new owners for this property,” Jefferies analyst Chloe Lemarie said in a note.
Industry sources said Airbus is trying to sell the surplus A350 to Air India, including three it claims are available as a result of a dispute with Qatar Airways. The two sides are embroiled in a bitter court battle over the fate of the A350 following the discovery of surface damage in the fleet.
Broad-looking overall delivery figures confirm the 140-142 range released by Reuters this week, citing sources – more than some analysts had expected.
The announcement came after CEO Guillaume Faury told German newspapers that Airbus was sticking to its goal of raising the reference production of narrow-body vehicles to 65 per month by summer 2023, and reaffirmed its financial goals despite the war in Ukraine.
The A330neo is an upgrade of Airbus ’best-selling wide-body jet designed to compete with the Boeing (NYSE 🙂 787 at a lower price.
He picked up hundreds of orders just to face uneven demand as he remained heavily dependent on the troubled AirAsia X.
Airbus has gradually reduced its presence in its order books, which were considered unlikely to materialize, while shifting attention to the boom in sales of the narrow-body A321neo.
“It’s always a shock to see a major cancellation of wide-body planes, but these planes probably weren’t included in investors’ delivery forecasts for at least the last three years,” said Partners analyst Sash Tusa.
“With a focus on high demand for the A321neo, it’s a good opportunity to look at A330neo orders and clean up the backlog.”
In a legal testimony Thursday, Airbus minimized the advantages of its popular A321neo compared to Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, as opposed to its own marketing offer, but analysts described the move as a courtroom tactic in a growing legal dispute with Qatar Airways.
Following a review of orders on Friday, Airbus has 200 undelivered A330neo in its order book compared to 265 a month ago. That includes 28 for Iran under a nuclear deal that failed in 2018, even though Tehran is in talks with major powers to revive the deal.
Airbus said on Friday it had sold a total of 253 planes in the first quarter or a total of 83 after cancellations. Rival Boeing will release quarterly data next week.