Toulouse - The problems arising from the engine manufacturers for the medium-haul jet A320neo have severely spoiled the start of the European aircraft manufacturer to the year. Sales and profits fell significantly.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders is set to launch the majority of A320neo deliveries in the second half of the year.
There is still a lot of work to do to achieve the target of around 800 deliveries of commercial aircraft,said Enders on April 27 in Toulouse.
Compared to the same period of the previous year, the profit in the first quarter fell by almost one third. Sales also fell by twelve percent.
Despite the weak figures at the beginning of the year, the Executive Board expects to increase its adjusted EBIT for the full year from 4.25 billion euros ($5.11 billion) of the previous year to around 5.2 billion euros ($6.25 billion). The manufacturer aims to deliver around 800 commercial aircraft this year as planned before.
Airbus' plans depend on the engine manufacturers' commitment to the A320neo engines. In the first quarter, the Group delivered a total of 121 commercial aircraft of all types, 15 less than a year earlier.
Pratt & Whitney is far behind the scheduling agreements due to technical problems. The British manufacturer is the supplier of the engines about half of the all medium-haul jets produced by Airbus. That's why Airbus had to shake its delivery targets in 2016 and 2017.
However, there are also difficulties with another supplier CFM International, a joint venture of the French Saffran group and General Electric.
Airbus would like to ramp up its A320 and A320neo production to 70 copies per month in the coming years. There is an obvious need for it, said CFO Harald Wilhelm. However, the engine manufacturers strongly oppose it.
Saffran boss Philippe Petitcolin repeatedly described Airbus' plan as crazy. According to Petitcolin, a production rate of 70 aircraft per month is not feasible before 2021. From mid-2019, Airbus is already planning to produce 60 copies per month.
Meanwhile, on the widebody side, the business is developing in opposite directions. While the production of the A350 is expected to grow to 10 machines per month by the end of 2018, the manufacturer cancels plans for the A330 and its re-engineered version A330neo.
From 2019, only 50 aircraft of the entire A330 series are expected to leave the plant every year, ten fewer than planned for 2018. The reason is low demand for the A330neo, admitted Wilhelm. Airbus intends to deliver the first A330neo to TAP Portugal this summer.
After the transition to the A330neo, Airbus wanted to adjust the line to six aircraft per month initially. Wilhelm even credited the program with "potential for seven aircraft" a year ago. But Wilhelm still sees good market opportunities for the aircraft in the medium to long-term.
The demand for large jets has declined in recent years. In the coming decade, however, many airlines would have to replace their old planes in this segment,Wilhelm said.
Currently there are 214 orders for the A330-900. There are also 89 open orders for the aircraft of the previous series. The A330-800 lost its only customer earlier this year. Hawaiian Airlines withdrew its order for six aircraft and chose Boeing's Dreamliner.