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Record Airbus deliveries in 2009, but A400M and A380 challenges remain

written by australianaviation.com.au | January 13, 2010
One of 10 A380s Airbus delivered in 2009. (Airbus)
One of 10 A380s Airbus delivered in 2009. (Airbus)

Airbus delivered a record 498 aircraft in 2009, the European manufacturer announced on January 13, and recorded net orders for 271 new airliners, but continues to face challenges with its A380 and A400M programs.

During 2009 Airbus delivered 402 A320 Family aircraft, 86 A330/A340s and 10 A380s, totalling 15 more aircraft than Airbus delivered in 2008, an impressive result given recession in much of the world last year. (In 2009 Boeing delivered 481 airliners, including 372 737s – more here). In addition, Airbus Military (formerly EADS CASA) delivered 16 light and medium military transports.

Although customers cancelled 39 aircraft orders in 2009, Airbus still booked new orders for 310 aircraft for the year, comprising 228 A320 Family aircraft, 50 A330s (including four A330Fs), one A340-500, 27 A350s and four A380s. That met Airbus’s target of 300 orders for the year, and exceeded Boeing’s 263 gross and 142 net orders for 2009.

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“Considering the economic and financial environment we have done rather well in 2009,” said Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO.  “Great teamwork and flexibility at Airbus and a close cooperation with customers, suppliers and finance institutions were key to success. We plan to keep production at 2008/2009 levels, but we need to remain prudent and flexible. We are not out of the woods yet.”

Looking forward, Airbus expects to record 250 to 300 new orders in 2010, and does not expect orders to begin climbing until 2012.

“We probably agree with Boeing that 2012 is the turnaround when it starts ramping up again,” said John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer – customers. “We aim to keep deliveries flat. We believe we can do it.”

a400m-first-flight-2_lr_dec09
The troubled A400M program is flying into financial stress. (Airbus)

At the end of 2012 Airbus says its order backlog stood at 3488 aircraft, valued at US$437.1bn (A$472.1bn), equivalent to six years of full production.

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As well as the flat order outlook, another challenge for Airbus is the A380 program. It delivered just 10 in 2009, down from 12 delivered in 2008, due to ongoing production bottlenecks. “The A380 will remain a financial liability for some years to come,” Enders said. Airbus plans to deliver at least 20 A380s in 2010.

An even bigger liability is the A400M military airlifter. Cost overruns for the fixed price development contract run into the billions of euros.

“We cannot continue without a significant financial contribution from our customers,” Enders said. “If we don’t press for that it will jeopardise the whole of Airbus. The A400M as it is set up today will put the whole of Airbus in jeopardy and I will not go down that road.”

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