Airbus’s forthright COO Customers, John Leahy, has confidently predicted he can raise the order backlog for the low selling A380 by 20 sales by the end of 2010.
Speaking to media at the company’s annual Innovation Days briefings at Broughton in north Wales, Leahy said he had initially expected 10 new orders for the A380 this year, but was now predicting 20 sales. Firm orders for the A380 currently stand at 202, including the 27 delivered to four airlines to date, well short of the estimated 450 aircraft Airbus needs to sell in order to realise a profit on the program, which continues to suffer from industrial issues. Airbus officials had previously said they needed to sell 400 A380s to break even, but that was before the slower than expected production ramp up and several order deferrals during the global financial crisis.
“It’s just too bad we can’t build it efficiently, but we’re getting there,” Leahy lamented. “Passengers go out of their way to fly on this airplane.” He added that continuing positive feedback from the aircraft’s launch airlines – Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas – was being noticed by prospective customers, and that a rebound in passenger traffic meant airlines would again be focussing on renewing their fleets, particularly in the developing world.
Previously, Airbus has planned to deliver 20 A380s this year, and despite recent reports claiming this target would not be realised after it fell short of its target in 2009, the company says it may actually exceed this number due to sharp drops in the key areas of outstanding work required, production drawing backlogs and query resolution times at the aircraft’s final assembly line (FAL) in Toulouse
“We’re now on the right track,” Airbus executive vice president programs, Tom Williams said. “We’re more confident in what we’re going to achieve this year.”