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Airbus delivers 45 aircraft in April, 2021 orders still net negative

written by Hannah Dowling | May 10, 2021

A320 family in formation (Airbus)

European planemaker Airbus delivered 45 new commercial aircraft to customers in April 2021, to a total of 30 different customers.

The April results bring Airbus’ total deliveries to 170 for the year-to-date, up 25 per cent from the same period in 2020, when airlines were first beginning to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airbus also received 48 new orders in April, largely bolstered by an order of 25 A321neo jets from Delta Air Lines. The majority of the remaining orders included a mix of A320neo and A321neo jets for Dublin-based lessor Avalon.

The planemaker also saw 22 new cancellations, bringing its total orders for the year so far to minus 35 after cancellations.

However, Airbus has said it is confident that market conditions are improving, particularly in key markets such as the US and China, where vaccination campaigns have been successful.

The planemaker said it will increase production rates on its medium-haul jets from Q3 2021, though not quite returning them to pre-COVID levels.

Despite an apparent recovery in Airbus’ delivery rates, where planemakers make the bulk of their cash, analysts suggest that deliveries continue to lag behind production rates, which could see Airbus with a surplus of nearly 100 undelivered jets by the end of 2021.


Additionally, Airbus might still take a hit to its delivery prospects in light of the ongoing COVID crisis in India, one of its key markets.

An Airbus spokesperson stated that Airbus is aware that the recovery trajectory of its deliveries may not be linear. However, the company has kept its targets unchanged.

The results come days after Airbus again flagged that it may look into the development of a freighter variant of its A350 aircraft.

CEO Guillaume Faury noted the company’s intentions to end the dominance of rival Boeing’s in the cargo aircraft market, though admitted that Airbus “traditionally has been weak” in the cargo segment, likely referencing its underwhelming A330-200F.

“We do not like the idea to remain weak in that segment in the future. I think we have the right product to be able to be more aggressive in that market,” Faury said.

The chief executive remained vague on details, including what ‘product’ he means or the potential time frame of such a product.

“When it comes is not yet defined,” he acknowledged while stressing again that he believes it is “not healthy to have only one player exclusively in a segment that is actually very significant and has been resisting well in the pandemic”.

Last month, rumours began to swell that Airbus had started gauging customer interest in a potential freighter version of its A350 passenger airliner.

The proposed A350-950F would fit between the A350-900 and the larger A350-1000 in size.

The development of the A350 derivative for freighter use would cost an estimated $2-3 billion, and Airbus would need to secure orders for 50 aircraft before launching the program.

While Airbus has seen some success in its A330 and A321 passenger to freighter (P2F) programs, particularly in the last year, the launch of its only purpose-built freighter jet, the A330-200F program, received less enthusiasm.

The planemaker has delivered just 38 A330-200F jets since 2010, and has no outstanding orders for the freighter plane.


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