Following a lukewarm start to the year, Airbus saw strong results in March 2021, having received a total of 28 new aircraft orders and completed 72 deliveries to 34 separate customers.
The European planemaker’s results make March its strongest month for the year so far, as the COVID-19 pandemic enters into its second year and continues to decimate demand for air travel.
The March results bring Airbus’ quarterly deliveries to 125 for the year so far, which just beats its result of 122 in the same January-March period last year – before the pandemic really made itself felt by the industry.
The results have also appeared to make a meaningful dent in the planemaker’s inventory of undelivered jets, which sat at around 100 in mid-February.
With eight cancellations in the month of March, and 28 orders, Airbus now sits at a net order total of minus 61 jets, largely thanks to a mammoth order cancellation by Norwegian Air amid its bankruptcy proceedings.
March’s new orders include 20 A220-300s, sold to an undisclosed buyer, as well as four A320neos and four A321neos for Dublin-based aircraft lessor Avolon.
So far, US rival Boeing has outperformed Airbus in relation to aircraft orders, in a trend that is expected to continue when Boeing releases its March results in the coming days, largely bolstered by a mammoth order for dozens of its embattled 737 MAX jets by Southwest Airlines.
The Dallas-based airline previously touted that it may consider abandoning its all-Boeing fleet commitment and embrace the Airbus A220 instead, however in the end opted for the smallest variant of the Boeing 737 MAX family, the MAX 7.
The debate over which medium-haul narrow-bodied jet to purchase might be on the cards for a number of airlines in the coming weeks and months, as the airline industry begins to see some reprieve from depleted demand caused by the COVID pandemic.
According to recent comments made by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, he expects demand for medium-haul air travel to recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, far faster than long-haul travel.
The CEO said that some of the industry’s trusted narrow-bodied workhorses, including the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families of aircraft, will lead the industry’s recovery, and that bigger jets are likely to continue to fall out of favour with airlines due to lack of demand and increased running costs.